What We Do
Since its inception in 1991, the Chester Childbirth Appeal has provided facilities over and above those afforded by the NHS. Only with the help of fundraisers volunteers and the great generosity of our supporters of the Childbirth Appeal have we been able to raise money to finance these improvements.
→ Our Achievements
→ Special Care Baby Unit
→ The Adolescent’s Unit
→ The Christopher Wing
Major Donors to the Childbirth Appeal include:
The Ursula Keyes Trust
The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial fund
The Geoffrey Kelson Foundation
The Chester & Ellesmere Port & Neston Chamber of Commerce
Local schools, colleges, the University of Chester
Nurses in the water birth suite
Since the beginning of the Childbirth Appeal we have raised over £1.5 million!! Initially we planned to provide more comfortable and attractive en suite delivery rooms in order that women would not have to be moved during labour. A bereavement suite and a water birth suite followed. In the post natal wards the Childbirth Appeal sought to provide a better ambience. Mothers needed somewhere to relax, talk, watch television and feel at ease. New mothers normally do not need to be confined to their beds (a bright sitting room would be an alternative place to pass the time whilst in hospital)
A fully furnished and equipped family room where bereaved parents can stay together away from crying babies
until the mother is fit to go home.
The Snowdrop room where the babies of bereaved parents can be tended
A completed second baby burial ground at Blacon crematorium, Chester.
A baby memorial garden at Blacon Crematorium, Chester.
A furnished and decorated sitting room on the labour ward.
A furnished and decorated sitting room on the post-natal ward
A fully furnished and equipped water-birth suite.
A cafe courtyard, furnished with teak chairs, parasols and planters.
A set of upholstered furniture and redecoration of the reception lounge.
A refurbished waiting area.
A redecorated, refurnished and re-equipped Parent craft room.
Three specialised beds for the central labour suite.
Birthing balls for the community and at the request of mothers for the labour wards too.
A major donation towards the Human Milk Bank
An overnight stay room for the parents of ill babies on ward 32
A quiet infant feeding room on ward 32
A Japanese garden for visual pleasure, replacing a concrete courtyard.
The Christopher Wing, en-suite accomodation for parents whose children are being nursed on the adjacent wards.
Our latest project was to design and build an outdoor playground with the added facility of a sensory garden for the delight of those children with special medical needs.
We had the permission of Her Majesty The Queen to dedicate it to her in honour of the Diamond Jubilee. It was opened in May 2013 by Mr David Briggs M.B.E The Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire.
In February 2015, The Right Reverend Peter Forster The Bishop of Chester unveiled the plaque recording the names of those who contributed to this much appreciated facility.
We are seeking donations for our latest project, which is to provide a new Transitional Care Unit, where mothers can be accommodated and learn to care for their vunerable or premature baby under the supervision of experienced staff before taking their baby home.
A survey revealed the need for shop and cafe facilities. There was no where for example for mothers, or their visitors, to obtain refreshments. We were assured that a shop and cafe would be much appreciated and this new facility would provide a service to all the families using the Women and Children’s building as well as serving as an outlet for the Childbirth Appeal merchandise to help with our fund-raising. On the 19th June 2000, we were able to open the Comfort Zone, the shop/cafe and children’s play area at the front of the Maternity Unit (this year we will celebrate its 15th anniversary) thanks to a £60,000 grant from the Diana memorial fund and a £40,000 anonymous donation from a local resident. The Comfort Zone is managed by Mrs Heather Smith. She oversees the 12 employees and some 40 volunteers necessary to keep the shop and cafe working happily and efficiently. We are most fortunate in having her.
The Comfort Zone is the trading arm of the charity, registered with Company House no. 03413260. All profits are covenanted to the charity. The Comfort Zone was totally refurbished and re-opened by Louise Owen in December 2010.
The Special Baby Care Unit Extension – The Geoffrey Kelson Wing
The kitchen and sitting area in the wonderful new extension
This was built to accommodate the parents of premature babies being cared for in the special care baby unit. There are two en suite bedrooms, a combined sitting room, kitchen and dining room and a courtyard garden with furniture and attractive planters. This area was officially opened by her grace, the Duchess of Westminster in September 2005.
Some views of the people who use the Special Baby Care Unit
“Our beautiful son was born with severe brain damage – he was critically ill when he was born and was very poorly throughout his life. He spent nine months in the Neo-Natal Ward during which time we, along with many other parents, used the parent facilities on a daily basis. I lived in the Unit for some weeks when my son was critically ill. It was invaluable to have somewhere to stay close to our baby as we live over 20 miles from the hospital. As the weeks turned to months, it was our sanctuary – it provided respite from the hospital environment – away from the machines, bleeps, alarms and uniforms. A home from home that allowed us to spend time as a family in a ‘normal’ environment; a place to make a coffee, have our own food and get fresh air. A place for siblings to play and watch TV during the many hours at the hospital; a place to wash, rest and sleep where we were close to our son. It kept us sane through the most difficult time of our lives.
Our brave son died aged 18 months in November 2009. After he died he was taken from the Children’s Ward to the Christopher Wing where we spent precious hours with him. It was private, peaceful, homely, a place where we said our goodbyes. Without these areas there would be no escape from the stressful clinical hospital environment and there would be nowhere for parents to stay overnight near their babies on the Neo-Natal Ward. We really don’t know how we would have got through these difficult times without them. These areas are funded by the Chester Childbirth Appeal. They are built from the care and generosity of others. We cannot thank you enough.” – Harry’s mother
“The facility is a real life-saver. It is great to get some time out from the Ward sometimes – it is like a second home. I really appreciate the hard work and efforts of those who have put in to creating such a marvellous facility.””
“Fantastic to have a place where we can eat lunch or tea together whilst we are here. We really appreciate all the hard work and generosity it must have taken to create such an amazing place.”
“Thank you for the facilities that we have been using whilst our son has been here. Over the past six weeks they have been extremely useful as a means of entertainment for our other two daughters, aged 6 and 7. It has also been useful for us as a place for relaxation and peace. We would like to thank everybody who has provided this facility.”
The Adolescent’s Unit
Michael Owen, Patron, meets a patient in the Adolescent’s Unit
This is an area on the Children’s ward for the care of young people between the ages of 10 and 16 years away from the younger children and adult wards. Here they have their own space, a three bedded bay for boys, a three bedded bay for girls, a communal sitting room and a courtyard with seats, plants and a tiled chess board with large plastic chess pieces. This was officially opened by Michael Owen in March 2008.
Comments by Teenage users of the ward:
“We can play on the games consoles and watch football on the big telly, its great!”
“It is really cool to have our own space”
“We really like this place provided especially for us, Thank you.”
The Christopher Wing Project
This latest project undertaken by the charity was to totally refurbish the Christopher Wing, including provision of a quiet room for the use of counselling adolescents. It was reopened by His Grace, the Duke of Westminster on April 20th 2011.
The extension was originally funded by the Worrall family in memory of their son Christopher, who had been nursed on the Children’s ward in the Countess of Chester Hospital. Tim and Gill Worrall who needed to be near their son became acutely aware of the need for somewhere for parents to stay near their child during critical periods.
In 2009, the need for refurbishment was drawn to the charity’s attention, and following a thorough assessment and a discussion with the architect Rob Gibbs, whom we had employed to build the premature baby unit parents accommodation and the adolescents unit; the work was designed and costed at £86,500
The plan was discussed with Tim and Gill Worrall, and they were delighted that we wished to go ahead.
We as a charity are entirely independent of NHS. Nevertheless any project is discussed with the senior staff, and we work closely with the hospital works department.
The charity then set about raising funds, we have succeeded in covering the majority of the costs, i.e. £86,500.
Some views of the people who have used the Christopher Wing:
“What a calm, peaceful, light and airy room to have a minute to relax – after a long restless night with a poorly child.”
“Somewhere to relax in a such a calm environment, a brilliant place for me and my husband to stay whilst our child was in hospital. I hope this Wing stays this lovely for families for years to come. Thank you to all Ward 30 Staff, The Chester Childbirth Appeal” – (Olivia’s Mum)
We currently maintain:
- The Adolescent Unit Garden
- The Japanese Garden
- The Neo-natal Unit Garden
- The Comfort Zone Cafe Courtyard
- The Baby Memorial Garden at Blacon Crematorium, Chester, we share the cost of maintaining this lovely area with the Miscarriage
- Support Group and Cheshire West and Chester Council.