Early Bird Ball raises thousands for the Neonatal Unit at St James’s Hospital

A grateful family’s fundraising ball has raised over £10,000 for hospital charity Leeds Cares.

Leeds parents, Gemma and Joseph Skelley’s sell-out ‘Early Bird Ball’ was organised specifically to support the Neonatal Unit at St James’s University Hospital who cared for their son, Joshua.

The couple’s world was turned upside down when Joshua was born at just 28 weeks and 3 days, weighing 2lb 12oz. He was looked after on the Neonatal Unit for just over two months until he was strong enough to return home with his family.

Gemma said, “Whilst a very difficult situation, we had complete trust in the staff at St James Hospital. The nurses cared for Joshua like he was their own child and the support we received as parents was astonishing. We will be forever grateful, forever in their debt”

Nearly 200 guests attended the glamorous evening at The Met Hotel in Leeds on Saturday 9th November.

Guests included staff and other parents the family met during their time on the Neonatal Unit. The evening, complete with a fabulous red-carpet arrival and three-course meal, raised a whopping £5,000 through the charity raffle alone.

The ball attracted a tremendous amount of support from local businesses in terms of donations and sponsorship. Gemma and Joseph’s employers, DTP Group and NG Bailey kindly supported the event with raffle prizes, as did Nottingham based Wade Springs and Halifax based Limehouse Films.

All proceeds raised will go directly to benefit parents and babies cared for on unit.

All proceeds raised will go directly to benefit parents and babies cared for on unit; from ward refurbishments, to providing counselling support to parents once they’ve returned home.

Sue Peak, Lead Nurse on the Neonatal Unit told us, “The ball was a fabulous way to celebrate the family’s journey. The amount of support for the unit was breathtaking! It made me extremely proud of every single member of staff and the care they provide. The money raised will make a real difference for future neonatal families.”

Sharon Link, Head of Community Fundraising at Leeds Cares said, “Gemma and her family put in so much hard work organising the event. It was fantastic that local businesses also chose to give their support and helped to raise such a large sum of money. Wonderful fundraisers like Gemma mean Leeds Cares can continue to give great support to all the wards across Leeds Teaching Hospital.”

After the success of this year’s ‘Early Bird Ball’, the Skelley family say they hope to continue fundraising for Leeds Cares and do whatever they can to support staff, babies and parents on the Neonatal Unit.