Mum joins Walk for Wards after baby spent over two months in Salisbury Hospital’s Neonatal Unit

A mum whose taking part in Walk for Wards after her baby spent over two months in the Neonatal Unit at Salisbury Hospital has shared her experience about what it was like and how the Stars Appeal helped her.

Hayley Howell’s son Fletcher was born 11 weeks early in October last year. While Fletcher was in hospital Hayley and her partner David Hart were able to stay close by in the Stars Appeal’s accommodation for parents.

She says: “We spent just over two months on the Neonatal Unit and stayed in the parents’ accommodation. We kept saying we completely understand if we need to go but there was never any question about us having to go.”

“It was comforting for me having David there.”

After Fletcher’s condition improved Hayley later moved into one of the Stars Appeal mum and baby rooms and says it was “nice to be by your baby’s side the whole time”.

The mum and baby rooms provide a private space where they can stay together. The Stars Appeal recently funded the construction of two more of these rooms. There are now six mother and baby rooms in total which is in addition to the four larger en suite ‘family’ rooms. This means there is now room for every mum to stay.

Hayley is taking part in Walk for Wards with her family and will be part of a group of 15. She wanted to do something to “be able to give back” for all the support they received during Fletcher’s time in hospital.

She says Fletcher is doing “perfectly” now but admits going into the Neonatal Unit was “scary at first” but staff made her feel comfortable and were “really comforting and helpful”.

“I got to the point where I thought ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore’ but they helped me keep going. The nurses and everybody on the unit were fantastic,” admits Hayley, 34, who is from Amesbury.

“We nearly lost Fletcher a couple of weeks after he was born. He got a common cold and where he was so little it stopped him breathing. I was there on my own and remember the staff comforting me. They were so caring about us as parents as well as looking after our baby.”

Hayley also praised the support for parents provided by the Stars Appeal, Salisbury District Hospital’s Charity, to ease the stress of having a child in the Neonatal Unit, including free aromatherapy sessions which she says were a “Godsend” and the Stars Appeal musicians who play lullabies to the babies.

Hayley says: “These activities do the world of good for mums on the unit. It is something good to look forward to. The little extras are amazing.

“Fletcher is my miracle baby. To lose him was unthinkable as it took us so long to conceive him. He is my world. That Neonatal Unit is absolutely amazing.”

Walk for Wards is on Sunday, July 9 at Wilton House.

More than 840 people have now signed up for Walk for Wards. If Hayley and Fletcher’s story has inspired you to get involved you can sign up for free on our website.

All you have to do is raise a minimum of £20. You can choose to raise this money for a ward or department that is close to your heart. To find out more about how your donations support patients and staff at Salisbury Hospital click here.

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