A group of babies from Surrey have taken part in a festive fundraiser to try the quintessential – and possibly the nation’s most contentious – Christmas dinner staple, Brussels sprouts, for the first time.
‘Christmas Sprouts’ saw babies aged between six months and nine months dig into a bowl of the green vegetables to raise funds for Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity’s Closer to Care campaign, which will transform care for premature and sick babies treated at Royal Surrey’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).
The sponsored sprout challenge, which took place on Monday 2 December at Cosy Club in Guildford, has already raised £485 for the charity, with sponsorship money still coming in.
Event organiser Cath Millman, mum of six-month-old Alice who took part in the event, heard about the campaign after giving birth to her daughter at Royal Surrey back in May. She said: "Alice is really enjoying starting solid food and each new taste brings a new funny face! So I thought, what better way to raise money for such an important cause, than to get her and her friends together to try Christmas' most divisive greens – the humble Brussels sprout?”
The £500,000 campaign aims to deliver a new SCBU, which will include comfortable overnight accommodation, so parents are able to stay next to their babies’ cots – something that is not currently possible at many neonatal units due to limited space. Plans also include a separate family room for siblings to play and space for visitors to gather.
"As new mums and dads, those precious first few hours and days with our babies are still fresh in our minds. The NHS midwives and doctors are very caring, but nothing compares to being held and comforted by your own little family when everything is so brand new.
"Some of us have been directly affected by this issue, and we want to send a message of hope to all the new parents and their brave little sprouts at Christmas time and a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored us – your money will go directly to the Special Care Baby Unit. Hopefully by next Christmas, no one will have to spend those precious first nights apart from their sick or premature newborns."
David Smith, Head of Fundraising at Royal Surrey County Hospital Charity, said:
"What a brilliantly funny idea for a fundraiser! Thank you to Cath for organising the event, to the Cosy Club for providing the venue free-of-charge, and to everyone who came along to support and gave so generously. But most of all, thanks to the babies for being such good sports.
"We have been blown away by the support we've received for the campaign so far and – thanks to supporters like Cath – we're over halfway towards reaching our fundraising target. But we still need your support, so please get in touch to donate or find out more.”