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Chester Childbirth Appeal marks 25 wonderful years

Good cause founded by retired midwife

The Bishop of Chester Dr Peter Forster and Pat Daniels of the Chester Childbirth Appeal attend the unveiling of a plaque recording the names of fundraisers for the Comfort Zone/sensory garden at the Women and Children's Unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital

This year marks an impressive 25 years since the Chester Childbirth Appeal was first set up.

And over the years, the charity, based at the Countess of Chester Hospital has certainly had much to be proud of.

It was back in 1991 that retired midwife tutor Pat Daniels and a small group of midwives started the Chester Childbirth Appeal as the first charity devoted to supporting a maternity unit.

Their aim was to provide facilities that were over and above those afforded by the NHS, such as a more comfortable homelike and attractive environment, with the benefit of having expert medical care at hand if needed.

The charity is supported solely by a group of ‘loyal and devoted’ volunteers who give their time and employ their range of skills to events held in places such as the Comfort Zone Cafe, the children’s play area; at the Cheshire Show and at Eaton Park, amongst various other locations where the charity fundraises.

Founder Pat Daniels said: “We fundraise in various ways, such as organising concerts. We have a stand at the Cheshire Show each June, attend various fairs with other local charities.

“We also have a devoted team of knitters who make lovely baby garments and toys. In 2000 we opened our Comfort Zone shop/cafe and children’s play area.”

“All profits made from these kind of events are transferred to the charity, and the work of the Appeal has been so successful that its staff say they can honestly, hand on heart, say there is not a mother, baby or child cared for at the Countess of Chester Hospital who has not benefited from it.

Pat added: “Twenty five years ago, my dear friend and nursing colleague Viv Smith and I first started our respective charities, both training at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital.

“Viv pursued a distinguished career in nursing and I became a midwife.

“Viv started the hospice movement in Chester, and now we have the much loved and respected Hospice of the Good Shepherd of Backford, caring for those approaching the end of life, easing their suffering.

“Viv, sadly is no longer with us, but how proud she would have been to know how successful her enterprise is.”

Since the beginning of the Childbirth Appeal, more than £1.5m has been raised.

Where initially the plan was to provide more comfortable and attractive en suite delivery rooms so women would not have to be moved during labour.

This was followed by a bereavement suite and a water birth suite, while the post natal wards were created to provide a better ambiance where mothers could have somewhere to relax, talk, watch television and feel at ease.

A new project is in the pipeline in the form of a Transitional Care Unit, where mothers can be accommodated and learn to care for their vulnerable or premature baby under the supervision of experienced staff before taking their baby home.

Donations are being sought for this.

And in the meantime, the Appeal is gearing up for a big charity fun day to commemorate the 25th anniversary, on Saturday, July 23, from 11am-4pm.

If you can help, or are interested in getting involved, contact Karen 01244 365 102 or email chester.childbirth@nhs.net to book for more information.

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