Shooters raise money for hospital ward

Melissa and Stuart Smith with their daughter Elsie along with staff including Karen Ranson, far left, the neonatal ward manager. Photo: My WiSH Charity.

Shooters have taken to the range to help raise hundreds of pounds to support a neonatal unit at the West Suffolk Hospital. 

The event saw up to 40 people take part in a charity shoot at Eriswell Lodge which resulted in £3,400 being collected.

That money was then split four ways with £850 being donated to the My WiSH Charity, which supports the work of the hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

The rest went to the Lister Hospital, in Stevenage, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and the Paediatric and Neonatal Decision Support and Retrieval Service, known as PaNDR, which provides critical care retrievals for neonates and children requiring transfer from different locations across the East of England. They all had a role in the treatment of Melissa Smith’s premature baby Elsie.

Melissa had her daughter 11 weeks early back in April 2021 and had to be taken to the Lister by PaNDR for her baby to be delivered.

They were then transferred back closer to home during May and spent up to a month in the care of the neonatal staff at the hospital in Bury St Edmunds before complications set in and the pair were taken to the Norwich hospital for further treatment.

Thirty-year-old Melissa, who with her husband Stuart owns the shooting range on the A1065 between Mildenhall and Brandon, organised the fundraising ladies day shoot back in July last year and it included a raffle, a silent auction along with a series of donations.

Karen Ranson, neontal ward manager, said: “The money raised is to be spent within our transitional care area. This is a specific area dedicated to keeping mum and her baby together if they need extra support from a specialised team and thus prevents them being separated. This is either from admission, or as a stepdown of care as the baby’s condition improves.

“These mum and babies potentially will need to have an unexpected extended stay in hospital, so the money will be spent making the area more comfortable and ‘homely’, and to potentially provide little bags of hand creams, lip balms and body spray for the mothers.”

Melissa, who lives in Red Lodge with her 42-year-old husband and baby Elsie, said her daughter is “doing really well”. 

She said: “She is an absolute character and when we bought her back to the West Suffolk recently, the staff were really all happy that she has progressed so well. She is a very active child.

“When she was initially on the ward she was in an incubator for some weeks and received some oxygen. That ward is absolutely amazing. It’s very homely and we had the same group of nursing staff. They know who you are and you create such a great rapport with them. They were so helpful from the moment that we got there.”

Sally Daniels, fundraising manager for My WiSH, added: “The charity has a long-standing relationship with Melissa and Stuart as they were part of our Every Heart Matters cardiac appeal a few years ago. They’ve been on a tough journey and it’s wonderful to see them on the other side. The staff loved seeing Elsie and it’s also fantastic for the parents currently needing the help of the neonatal team to see how well Elsie is doing. This new project is amazing and it’s great to have the family be part of it.”

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