When push comes to shove, Furness folk can be relied upon to dig deep as their support of the Bayb’s Maternity Appeal is testimony and now appeal co-ordinators are asking for a final festive flourish – a last ‘Big Push’ – to help it hit its New Year target.

The appeal, which launched in February to ensure Furness General’s new maternity unit, scheduled to open this coming February, is second to none in the country, currently stands at £175,000 – a total just achieved following a spate of support from the likes of Furness Lions, staff and customers of Barrow’s branch of the Furness Building Society and the residents of Ramsey Park Sheltered Housing Scheme in Barrow, among others.

This means that it is now just £75,000 short of its £250,000 target. Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, said: “To be at this stage already is fantastic and shows just how the community has got behind the appeal – its generosity has been incredible, thank you. We are now so near to our final target and with the unit’s opening just a matter of weeks away, it would be brilliant if we all joined together for one last ‘Big Push’ to see it through to the end.”

Residents of Ramsey Park showed their support for the Bayb’s appeal by organising an afternoon tea party and inviting guests to pop a donation into a collection bucket. Together with a raffle, they raised £511.95 plus they donated some hand-knitted baby clothes, which were sold alongside other hand-knitted baby outfits and blankets in the foyer of Furness General last week. The sale brought in a further £153.

Staff at Furness Building Society in Barrow raised £123 by organising a “Name the Teddy” competition that was won by customer Bill Turner. Mr Turner kindly donated his prize back to the appeal and it will now be raffled by the charity and their band of loyal volunteers!

Similar generosity was demonstrated by shoppers at Booths, Ulverston, and customers of Costa Coffee, Barrow, who together raised £200 by adding their loose change to Bayb’s collection buckets, while local couple Alan and Hilary Docker opened their garden to friends and family to raise £511 for the appeal. Hilary also donated some hand-knitted baby clothes.

The appeal was also boosted by a £5,000 donation from Furness Lions. Part of this donation will go to buy a Neopuff Resuscitator. Sascha Wells, Director of Midwifery and Obstetrics for UHMB, said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone who has supported our appeal so far – your donations will have a significant impact on everyone who uses the new maternity unit.

“I cannot thank you enough as I know that this will have a huge impact for women and families not only today but also, for the future generations of this community.”

Sascha added: “The Baby’s appeal is about ensuring the safest, most comfortable environment for our newborns, their parents and visitors and the unit’s staff, who can be confident that they have the latest technology at their fingertips and the most up-to-date clinical training aids.

“Some of the equipment we want to buy for the unit falls outside the remit of what the NHS is able to fund but through the appeal, we can provide it as it’s our aim to make Furness General Hospital the best place to have a baby in the whole of the country.”

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock has long championed maternity services at Furness General Hospital and just last week obtained the backing of health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP for local campaigners to be commemorated in the new unit.

He said: “The Furness public has always responded brilliantly with support for our hospital’s maternity unit and the incredible amount of money raised for the Bayb’s appeal in such a comparatively short time tells its own story.

“I feel sure they will respond yet again with one final effort into the new year which can hopefully see the appeal reach its target as the February opening draws closer.”

To find out more about the appeal and make a donation, visit Bay Hospitals Charity’s website at www.bayhospitalscharity.org