A mum who turned to fundraising to thank the hospital which cared for her premature daughter has been nominated for the Cheshire Woman of the Year award.
Louise Purcell’s daughter Beatrice was born three months prematurely weighing just 2lb 13oz. She had to be kept in an incubator and fed with a syringe for the first few weeks of her life.
Beatrice, now four, went on to make a full recovery.
Inspired by the care she received, mum-of-three Louise, decided to give something back and get involved in the Countess of Chester Hospital’s Babygrow Appeal to fund a new £3 million neonatal unit.
Louise, from Mickle Trafford, said she was ‘thrilled’ to be nominated for the award by the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
She said: “There were no baby beds in Chester for my Bea when she was born, so she had to spend three weeks in Arrowe Park Hospital, which was a 30 minute drive away, before we could transfer to Chester.
“It felt so much better once we moved because it was a five minute walk away. People often don’t realise how long premature babies have to spend in hospital and it’s the worst thing for a parent not to have their little one with them. It also meant my other children Nia and Lydia could come over and spend more time with Bea.
“During Bea’s six-week stay I was welcome any time day or night. The staff would buy a cake and decorate the unit to celebrate when families had been there for 100 days and do everything to make you feel at home.
“That’s what encouraged me to get involved with fundraising once Bea’s condition was stable.
“We have already raised over half of the £3 million Babygrow Appeal fundraising target. Once we hit our target a new neonatal unit double the size of the current one can be built so that babies who are born early like Bea can enjoy the best care possible.”
Louise who is an events co-ordinator for law firm Slater and Gordon, has been able to use her talents in her charity work.
She added: “I’ve been involved in so many events that it is hard to pick a favourite.
“There has been a fashion show, a ladies lunch at the Duke of Westminster’s estate in Chester and we even launched a book full of neonatal unit stories from parents like me, written by my friend Susan Pemberton whose son Oliver was next to Bea in the countess.
“I also help to organise a Christmas concert every year. BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin supported us one year after I contacted her and has now become a patron for the Babygrow Appeal.
“I managed to sell a cricket bat I got signed by England captain Alastair Cook at a work event in our most recent charity auction for £300.
“I’m thrilled that I’ve been nominated for a ‘Woman of the Year’ award. I didn’t expect it at all, I just love fundraising for the Babygrow Appeal because it is a cause very close to my heart.”
Other inspirational women on the shortlist include Jemma Gregory, chairman of SPACE, which provides specialist drop-in play sessions in the Chester area for children with additional needs, Elaine Hanzak, of Frodsham, for her support for perinatal mental health, Susanna Millington, for supporting refugees in Kos, Nicola Mullin, a champion for Women’s Health and Kate Spall, a campaigner for cancer patients.
The Cheshire Woman of the Year awards take place on Wednesday, April 27 at the Eaton Hall in Chester.
For more information on the Babygrow Appeal go to coch.nhs.uk.