‘And the buggies are under starters’ orders...and they’re off’

SOFAB has been set up to provide support to families with babies in neonatal care units. Emma Jackson / Julia Thomas / Catherine Osborne / Louise Peever / Jan De Mello with William / Henry and Amelia Jackson and Thomas Osborne. (P544C419)
SOFAB has been set up to provide support to families with babies in neonatal care units. Emma Jackson / Julia Thomas / Catherine Osborne / Louise Peever / Jan De Mello with William / Henry and Amelia Jackson and Thomas Osborne. (P544C419)
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A fundraising group is staging a race of a different kind at Pontefract Racecourse on Sunday.

Supporters of Families and Babies (SOFAB) is doing a sponsored buggy push and toddle around the racecourse from 10am.

SOFAB is a small charity which got together in 2012 after identifying a need to improve the experience of parents whose premature or sick babies are admitted to neonatal or special care baby units in Yorkshire.

Catherine Osborne, one of the event organisers, said: “Most of the children who will take part will have been in one of the local neonatal units when they were babies, or they will be family or friends of children who were.”

The hospitals SOFAB cover include Pinderfields, Leeds General Infirmary, St James’s, Dewsbury, Scarborough and Calderdale.

Mrs Osborne, of Castleford, found herself in a similar situation when her son Thomas was born five weeks early in 2009.

The mum said: “We spent three weeks with him in hospital. The nurses were great, they pretty much got us through it.”

As a way of giving something back, Mrs Osborne and Emma Jackson, who had a similar experience when her twins Henry and Amelia were born at 27 weeks, joined SOFAB to help neonatal nurses Louise Peever, Julia Thomas, Jan de Mello and consultant Kath Deakin to raise funds to improve accommodation and services for parents in neonatal units.

Mrs Osborne said: “We have done the flats up in Pinderfields where parents stay. It’s important for families to have somewhere private and comfortable to go to.”

Other units SOFAB have helped so far include St James’ Hospital in Leeds, Harrogate SCBU who used the funds to improve the parent’s bedroom, and the LGI neonatal unit who refurbished rooms where mums can discreetly express milk.

The charity is now hoping to raise more money to further improve services across the district through a range of fundraising activities.

This Sunday’s fundraiser has been in the pipeline for a while.

Mrs Osborne thinks the buggy and toddler race will turn a few heads as people pass the racetrack, adding: “Anybody who wants to come can. There will be plenty of donation buckets around.”

Visit www.sofabfundraising.co.uk for more.