Sadie and Rob Elford at the event
Parents of a baby who was born prematurely have raised an astounding £11,227 in aid of Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity’s Closer to Care campaign, which aims to transform care for premature or sick babies treated at Royal Surrey.

Sadie and Rob Elford from Haslemere organised the Big Spin for Tiny Babies – an epic eight-hour non-stop spin challenge – to support the charity, after their daughter Sienna spent five weeks being cared for in the hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), earlier this year.

The couple praised the excellent care Sienna received but described leaving Sienna at the hospital each night as the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do.

Rob, Sadie and Sienna Elford (centre) with Sandra Lowry from Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity and Royal Surrey staff.

Sadie said:

“It felt like I’d left a part of my heart behind.”

It’s this experience that led the new parents to support the charity’s £500,000 appeal to redevelop the hospital’s SCBU so that families have the option to stay overnight. Once complete, the unit will be the first of its kind across Surrey, Sussex and Kent to offer comfortable overnight accommodation for parents, next to their babies’ cots. Plans for the new unit will also include a family room, which will offer much-needed privacy for families receiving sensitive news, and a separate space for siblings to play with toys and visitors to gather and spend time together.

Sadie added:

“We knew that when we were in SCBU we had to do something to say thank you to all the amazing nurses and doctors who cared for Sienna.

“I first came up with the idea for the ‘Big Spin for Tiny Babies’ in a spin class – thinking about what we could do that would be crazy enough to get people to sponsor us. When others reached out and said they also wanted to join us for the eight-hour challenge, we were so surprised – this experience has made us realise just how amazing people are.”

The spinning event took place at a boutique fitness studio, CYC:D, in Haslemere on Saturday 12 October, and 18 spinners joined the couple – from friends and family members to other parents whose babies’ had been cared for in SCBU – to take part in the sponsored event and help raise funds.

Sadie concluded:

“When the charity told us how much we’d raised, Rob and I were absolutely blown away. Everyone has been so amazingly generous and we just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us – we are forever grateful to each and every one of you.”

Left to Right – Sandy Lowry from the charity, with Sadie, Rob and Sienna Elford, and SCBU Manager, Giezl Pulanco

David Smith, Head of Fundraising at Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity, said:

“We are extremely lucky to have some incredible supporters – these are often people who have experienced exceptional care and want to give back. From its inception through to the actual event, so much planning, time, care and generosity has gone into the Big Spin for Tiny Babies.

“We are so very thankful to Sadie and Rob, and to everyone who helped make it such a huge success – from the spinning team to the instructors, to all the local businesses that supported: the money raised really will transform lives for families of premature and sick babies in Surrey.”

To make a donation or find out more about Closer to Care, visit www.rschcharity.org.uk/closertocare or call the charity on 01483 464146.