A Kendal mum and nana fundraising duo have raised over £14,500 for the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) to say thank you to the NHS after Louise Phillips, 37, contracted meningitis, just hours after giving birth to her new-born baby.

Now, thanks to Louise and her mum, Christine Whiteley’s generous donation to Bay Hospitals Charity, the official charity of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), the charity have purchased two Vapotherm precision flow heaters, an Ergo kneeler and three Dyson fans for the RLI.

Donations made to Bay Hospitals Charity go to providing those extras that go ‘above and beyond’ what the NHS is currently able to support to help make the hospital and community experience better for local people.

Speaking about reaching their fundraising target, Louise said: “I wanted to fundraise for Bay Hospitals Charity as a way of saying thank you to all the incredible nurses and doctors, for not only saving my life but also my son, Bradley’s life.

“I originally set myself a fundraising target of £13,000. One thousand pounds to represent each day both Bradley and I spent at the RLI after he was first born. I can’t quite believe I’ve done it.”

Louise, along with mum, Christine, also from Kendal, have spent the last three years fundraising for the charity by holding a number of successful fundraising events, including coffee mornings, charity auctions, a ladies night, a Christmas fair and baby clothes sales.

Recently Louise and Christine handed the charity a final cheque of over £2000, meaning the duo not only reached their initial fundraising target of £13,000 but surpassed it – bringing their final total to a fantastic £14,505.00.

Louise adds: “The whole team at the RLI who cared for both Bradley and I were truly amazing. We’re so lucky to have our NHS and raising this money was our way of saying thank you.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people over the course of our fundraising, many of whom became regular supporters.  I cannot thank everyone who has donated or attended one of our fundraising events over the years enough.

“My first fundraising event was a cake sale when Storm Desmond hit in December 2015. I initially fundraised for the The Lancaster and District Special Care Baby Trust Fund, raising over £9,000 which was used to purchase a patient monitor which has a plaque with our names on the back of it, cot wedges and other items.

“The support I have received from my parents has been truly amazing, especially from my mum. Mum has been my biggest and most important supporter, raising thousands of pounds through her wonderful knitting and for supporting me with all my plans and decisions”.

“My husband Pat has also been incredible and I can’t thank him enough for all the support he has given me on this journey. Being able to give this money has provided a lot of comfort to me.

Fran Champion, Matron for Children and Young People at the RLI said: “Thanks to Louise and Christine’s incredible fundraising, Bay Hospitals Charity were able to fund a new Vapotherm precision flow heater for our Children’s ward.

“The Vapotherm allows our clinicians to deliver the perfect synchronisation of flow, temperature, humidity and oxygen percentage to the patients we care for and we found that by using it it has helped us to reduce the number of transfers we need to make to tertiary centres, making it less stressful for the family and allows us to deliver a patients care closer to home”.

In addition to the Vapotherm precision flow heaters, the charity were also able to purchase an Ergokneeler,  three Dyson fans and a selection of toys, duvets and blankets to the hospital’s neonatal unit, special care baby unit (SCBU) and A&E department.

An Ergo kneeler is a kneeling system used by clinicians who undertake caring tasks at a low level, providing NHS teams with more comfort and support. The kneeler can assist the user in managing any postural stressing associated with kneeling, helping to reduce strain and promote improved musculoskeletal health.

Judith Read, Charity Coordinator at Bay Hospitals Charity “On behalf of all the whole team at the Bay Hospitals Charity, I would like to congratulate Louise and Christine on all their brilliant fundraising efforts. Louise and Christine are such lovely ladies, both with a heart of gold.   They have made such a difference and we can’t thank them enough for their incredible support and friendship over the years”.

For more information about Bay Hospitals Charity, visit: www.bayhospitalscharity.org

Louise’s story

“On 1 April 2015, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, Bradley at the RLI.

“I’d presented a few days earlier, as I was concerned about Bradley’s movements. After having my blood pressure taken, I was told I wasn’t allowed out of hospital until I’d given birth. Giving birth at Helme Chase in Kendal wasn’t an option, so off to Lancaster I went.

“Fast forward a day or so, and after an amazing natural birth, which could not have gone any better, I began to worry when Bradley first showed signs of an infection.  I was then told he would have to be transferred to the neonatal unit. I was beside myself with worry at this point, but understood that this was necessary.

“Having spent some time with Bradley and my husband, Pat on the neonatal ward, I went back to my own room to rest but within hours I too began to feel poorly. I knew immediately that something was not right. The next thing I remember is my room was suddenly full of nurses, doctors and consultants.

“When I woke up, I found myself on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) surrounded by all my family. Unbeknown to me, I’d been hooked up to every machine you can think of. I’d also had a lumbar puncture, as had Bradley.  Looking back, I realise how lucky I was. It was then I found out from one of the consultants that I’d contracted meningitis. I’d been unconscious for days.

“My first thought was where my precious baby boy was. I remember being asked by one of the nurses if I knew where I was. I did, and replied that I was in hospital and that I’d just had a baby boy.

“Thankfully, I was then told that Bradley was okay. I was then taken in a wheelchair to see him and was reunited with our baby. Bradley was doing okay. The relief I felt at that point was indescribable. 13 days later, both Bradley and I were discharged.

“In May 2017, 24 hours after we got back to the UK from our first ever family holiday abroad; Bradley became excessively sick and was acting unusual so I called CHOC.  An ambulance was sent to us and Bradley was once again taken to hospital where he was placed on life support, to help protect his airways whilst further tests were carried out.  To this day, I don’t know what triggered Bradley’s sudden decline as the discharge summary simply said ‘unknown’. I struggled with that for a while because as a parent you want a reason to try to understand but sometimes you don’t always get one.

“Once again, we were amazed by the excellent care Bradley received by all the teams at Morecambe Bay Hospitals. They’d saved his life again.  Bradley remained on the children’s ward for a week and once again the staff on the unit couldn’t have been more supportive.  They provided us with food, a little shower set and even allowed me to borrow their own mobile-phone charger. Staff on the ward really went above and beyond. Their kindness made me cry. It is little things like this that you remember.

“Meningitis is a truly awful infection.  I’m maybe not the same as I was before my illness but I’m here. Bradley still has a mummy and my husband has a wife and that’s what’s important.

“I strongly believe that I was able to fight the infection because of my pre-pregnancy fitness levels which I believe helped play a part in my survival and recovery. I’ve been a keen competitive swimmer for many years and a hockey player for over 15 years which helped built up my stamina and strength. I’d encourage anyone reading this to live a healthy and active lifestyle as possible.

“In May 2018, I was made redundant. After the initial shock, I realised it was a blessing in disguise as it turned out the timing was perfect. I spent that summer on garden leave and was able to spend that whole summer with Bradley before I accepted a fantastic part time position, with UHMBT!

“I now work as a department secretary for the Physiotherapy unit based at the Westmorland General Hospital and the Queen Victoria Hospital in Morecambe. UHMBT is a great place to work and the NHS really is a wonderful establishment.

“I recently assisted in a project promoting UHMBT at university career fairs where I organising hundreds of Meningitis Now water bottles for students for free, which also included a pocket-sized meningitis symptoms card. I’ve also raised over £500 for Meningitis Now, mostly by doing Dry January’s.

“I am now, not only a proud parent but now a proud NHS employee too and couldn’t be happier.  I will always be indebted to the all the wonderful NHS staff who supported me, Bradley and my family”.

To find out more about Louise and Christine’s fundraising, visit their dedicated Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RLIspecialcarebabies

The signs and symptoms of Meningitis

Symptoms

A classic symptom of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this doesn’t appear in many cases.

You should seek medical advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned about yourself or your child. Trust your instincts and don’t wait until a rash develops.

Call 999 for an ambulance, or go to your nearest A&E department if you think you, or your child might be seriously ill.

Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you’re not sure if it’s anything serious.

Meningitis rash

The rash usually starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches

It doesn’t fade if you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin

If a rash doesn’t fade under a glass, it’s a sign of blood poisoning (septicaemia) caused by meningitis and you should get medical advice right away.

The rash can be harder to see on dark skin. Check for spots on paler areas like the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, the tummy, inside the eyelids, and the roof of the mouth.

Other symptoms of meningitis

Meningitis can have a number of other symptoms, too, including:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • feeling and being sick
  • irritability and a lack of energy
  • a headache
  • aching muscles and joints
  • breathing quickly
  • cold hands and feet
  • pale, mottled skin
  • a stiff neck
  • confusion
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • drowsiness
  • fits (seizures)

Babies may also:

  • refuse feeds
  • be agitated and not want to be picked up
  • have a bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
  • be floppy or unresponsive
  • have an unusual high-pitched cry
  • have a stiff body
  • These symptoms can develop in any order and some may not appear.   (Source: NHS)