Bringing Christmas cheer to care unit

thisisoxfordshire: Courtney Hughes, left, meets 10-day-old Isla and mum, Amanda Taylor-Warne Picture: OX64118 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Courtney Hughes, left, meets 10-day-old Isla and mum, Amanda Taylor-Warne Picture: OX64118 Damian Halliwell

NEWBORN babies got their first taste of Christmas yesterday as a teenager donated presents to the John Radcliffe Hospital maternity unit.

The 40 sick babies and their parents in the Newborn Care Unit were treated to 200 toys, gifts and clothes.

Courtney Hughes, 15, of Great Western Drive, Didcot, has collected more than 650 presents donated to give away to patients stuck in hospital, and the elderly, and vulnerable families over Christmas.

She was at the Headington hospital to drop off her first load, of about 200 presents, to the John Radcliffe-based baby charity Support for the Sick Newborn and Their Parents (SSNAP).

Babies, like 10-day old Isla Warne, were given teddy bears, and hand-knitted hats, socks, mittens and cardigans.

Isla’s mum Amanda Taylor-Warne, 31, from Carterton, said: “It is really lovely what Courtney is doing.

“I have my fingers crossed we will be out of hospital by Christmas but if Isla needs to be here then it is better to make sure she is safe and well.”

Isla was born prematurely at 33 weeks after Mrs Taylor-Warne, a clinical researcher, developed a rare pregnancy complication called obstetric cholestasis.

Courtney, who goes to Didcot Girls School, said: “Seeing that baby, Isla, and hearing what the mums go through makes all the hard work worthwhile.

“Isla’s absolutely beautiful. It makes me feel really warm and happy to make someone else smile. It’s like Christmas is being spread around.”

Courtney launched her secret Santa charity campaign last year and decided to do the same again despite being diagnosed in May with chronic fatigue syndrome.

She is dropping off the rest of the presents to Life pregnancy charity, Helen and Douglas House hospice, and Hanover Court elderly care home in Didcot in the run-up to Christmas. The presents were donated by friends, family, and from people as far as Wales and Manchester.

SSNAP manager Julie Da Silva Moore said: “We are so grateful to Courtney for all of her hard work in arranging gifts for the sick babies and their families.

“When your little one is not able to be at home during this special time of year this will make an enormous difference to Christmas Day here in the newborn unit at the hospital.”

Newborn Care Unit nurse manager Laura Willoughby said: “It is a stressful time for parents with babies in the unit and Christmas is not something they have been able to think about so it will make a massive difference.”

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