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by Kathryn Thomson

Chief Executive

A bitter sweet moment for our generous fund-raisers

At a time when NHS organisations are dealing with financial pressures we need and appreciate those who help our charities even more. As a community hospital we never cease to be amazed and grateful for all the efforts local people make to raise funds for us.

For example, it was surely one of the most difficult things that Heather and Andrew Hiley had ever done - to return to our Neonatal where their very premature baby died last year of a congenital disorder.

As Heather said: "It was such a bitter sweet occasion, part pain, part pleasure." That was because the couple were handing over a cheque for more than £14,000 to buy a new state-of-the art Giraffe incubator for the unit where daughter Alice had spent her short life.

They had raised that magnificent sum with the help of family, friends and their community in Croft near Warrington with the Alice Hiley Memorial Trust, set up in their daughter's memory. "We wanted some good to come out of what happened and to help other babies and families," Heather explained. "We were so grateful for what the Neonatal Unit did for Alice and how they looked after us."

Such words are echoed again and again by the many patients who with their families and supporters raise money for our hospital charities. Like Jan Walton, Head of Fundraising for the Newborn Appeal, we are all so grateful to those who somehow find the strength to support us, sometimes at a very sad time, and to those who don't forget us when they thankfully take their babies home, Jan's famous army of knitters raises a staggering £37,000 a year with baby clothes sold in reception which will soon help to fund another £100,000 worth of equipment and more research to help our most vulnerable babies. Since it was set up in 1992, the Appeal has raised more than £2million, most of it by local people, including some children who have been cared for as neonates and have brought in their birthday money.

As a specialist trust, dedicated to the health of women and their families, we place as much importance on the emotional welfare of our patients and families as we do on delivering high standards of care. That is why we are so appreciative of the donations we get for the Liverpool Women's Charity "The Kitty" which enables us to provide the extras that the NHS can't fund. This includes raising money towards the £16,000 a year that is needed to run our nearby flats for parents who need to be close to their babies on intensive care. The Kitty also raises money for our Fetal Centre where babies' lives are saved while still in the womb and for our Hewitt Centre which brings the joy of parenthood to many of those with fertility problems.

One of those parents, Mark Colebourn, of Wirral, recently raised more than £3000 for the centre with a coast to coast cycle ride in gratitude for his IVF twins, Nell and Erin, who have transformed life for Mark and wife Helen.

Another keen cyclist, Kevin Bellion and lifelong friends Steve Warner and Lee Connolly, cycled from John O'Groats to Land's End to raise money in memory of his beloved partner, Carla Maguire who was cared for in our palliative care unit and died of cancer, aged 34. He and his supporters have raised more than £15,000 to refurbish a new palliativecare suite in Carla's memory and in recognition of the care she received at Liverpool Women's. And we mustn't forget Evoc, our gynaeoncology charity which helps patients to go forward in their recovery and form supportive friendships.

I find it hard to find the words to thank people like Kevin, Mark, Heather and Andrew, and all those hundreds of others who support our charities - except where would we be without you? Even though many people are facing financial difficulties themselves at the moment, they continue to dig deep and give their time to support us. Their fund-raising is not only helping us care for the patients of today but the research and equipment they fund will save lives in the future.

31 October 2011