SASH Charity has launched a major fund raising appeal to help East Surrey Hospital’s new neonatal unit go further for babies and families.

Work is underway to build a brand new unit at the hospital in Redhill, and SASH Charity is calling on local people to help raise funds for additional state-of-the-art equipment and better facilities for families.

The appeal is inspired by Olive – a happy and healthy three year old girl from Bletchingley – who spent much of her first 110 days on the East Surrey Hospital neonatal unit. The campaign is called ‘Olive’s Appeal’.

Olive’s mum, Keata Murray, said: “We are so grateful for everything the neonatal unit did for Olive – the staff at East Surrey Hospital were fantastic. Olive was just 975 grams when she was born, and spending so long there showed me just how important it is for parents to be able to spend time with their babies to help their recovery. It’s vital they’re able to be as comfortable as possible and we hope this new appeal will make the new unit truly special.”

Keata is one of thirty seven local people who took part in Run Reigate on Sunday 15 September to kick-start the appeal’s fund raising efforts.

Ingrid Marsden, neonatal unit matron at East Surrey Hospital, said: “Every year 500 babies need special care from our unit. Some, like Olive, can spend months with us before they are well enough to go home. We pride ourselves on looking after them as best we can and we built up a real bond with Olive while she was with us. We’re excited about our new unit and with your support we can go even further with additional high-tech cots and facilities that will make families like Olive’s more comfortable when they’re with us.”

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH), which runs the hospital, is already investing to transform the current neonatal unit. The Trust is rebuilding and expanding the department to create a modern space with significantly enhanced facilities. The new unit will have more space around each baby’s intensive care cot, additional capacity and new family rooms. It is due to open in 2020.

SASH Charity wants to enable the new space to go further, by providing additional state of the art equipment including a number of top of the range neonatal incubators which cost £20,000 each. The incubators improve the comfort of the baby, through enhanced temperature control, lighting, and the use of sounds. They also allow easier contact between mums and dads and the baby. The appeal will also fund enhanced facilities for the new family rooms.

Following the launch at Run Reigate, the appeal is expected to last at least a year.

Andrew Bickerdike from SASH Charity said: “We are so grateful to Keata, Olive and their family for telling their story. It’s inspired us to go further and we hope it will inspire many local people as well. A huge thank you too to all of our runners who helped us launch this appeal at Run Reigate and those who have donated. Please do visit to find out more and donate.”

Michael Wilson CBE, chief executive at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “I am truly humbled by Olive and Keata’s story. We are proud to support families like them and I am very grateful to our neonatal staff who are so dedicated in what they do. Our new unit will provide much needed capacity and better equipment, and with the support of this appeal we can provide a truly exceptional experience for babies and their families.”