First steps for a good cause

Nicola Sutcliffe and Dr Louise Leven with their young children.
Nicola Sutcliffe and Dr Louise Leven with their young children.

A group of mums have raised over £500 by holding a sponsored toddler walk for a charity that helps parents of babies born early.

The mums met at ‘First Steps’ meetings which are organised by East Dunbartonshire Council’s health visitors for new mothers in the area with babies the same age.

One of the mums, Nicola Sutcliffe (39), has an 18 month old son who spent two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

When she heard about the charity HUGG (Helping Us Grow Group), which was set up a few months ago to help parents of premature babies, she waned to do something to help and decide to organise a toddler walk at Mugdock.

Nicola, who also has a 12 year old daughter called Cara, said: “Having a baby in the intensive care unit is a stressful experience for parents and a very anxious time.

“It’s particularly horrible when you have to leave your baby behind for the night to go home.”

After discussions with parents HUGG came up with the idea of taking a video of the babies as they settle down for the night to send to the parents by email to reassure them.

Another project which has been funded by HUGG is a fingerprint scanner at the entry to the ward, which was installed last week.

Parents previously had to ring a buzzer and rely on a staff member coming to let them in. Staff answer the door between 70 to 100 times a day so parents can wait for quite a long time sometimes.

A consultant on the ward, Dr Louise Leven (37), who is also a mum of two - Millie aged 18 months, and Anna (3), joined the toddler walk.

She said: “HUGG is a great charity. The fingerprint scanner is very helpful because waiting at the door makes parents very anxious.

“They worry that there’s a problem or emergency with their baby.

“The video messages shows parents that their baby is fine and hopefully lets them rest overnight knowing that their baby is OK.

“We want to do everything we can to make this time less stressful for parents.”

HUGG has also funded a whiteboard next to every baby’s cot which can be used by staff to leave messages for the parents about their baby, for example how much milk they had or if they slept well.

To donate to HUGG visit