More than £55,000 has been raised to help open a special room at The James Cook University Hospital in memory of baby Billy Daniel Jones.
Billy’s Room Infinity Suite gives bereaved parents a calm and comfy place to stay while they spend precious time with their child.
When Billy was born in January 2017 he was unable to breathe on his own and had to be placed onto a ventilator in the neonatal unit at James Cook.
Parents Rachel and Daniel Jones were told that Billy was extremely poorly and that the neonatal team were doing everything possible to help him.
Sadly, his condition continued to deteriorate and they received the devastating news that there was nothing more that doctors could do for him.
Rachel, Dan and Billy were taken to a bereavement room so that they could be together as a family. The room enabled them to stay overnight and spend precious time with their son.
Looking back they recalled that the room was very basic and clinical and could have been better located as it was near to where other women were giving birth on the central delivery suite.
Determined to make a difference to other families, and to do something special in Billy’s memory, Rachel and Dan launched a fundraising drive supported by Thornton Academy of Performing Arts where Rachel works as a teacher and Billy’s nana, Sue Tyler, is the Principal.
Together with support from the Teesside community they have already raised an amazing £55,830 of which £29,600 has been used to create a new purpose built room at the Middlesbrough hospital.
Billy’s Room Infinity Suite officially opened its doors in December 2019. Located away from the central delivery suite, the private room features a comfy bed, ensuite bathroom and kitchen area in a homely environment and is already benefitting other families.
Rachel said: “It’s amazing to see Billy’s room finally open and to know that in Billy’s name we will be helping so many families in the future during their most difficult time.”
Melanie Philo, teacher and fundraiser, said: “We raised more than we ever imagined. The support of our dance school and the local and wider communities has been phenomenal.
“Thornton Academy of Performing Arts is continuing to raise money for a specialist bereavement nurse to give support to families when they leave the hospital. Our target is now £60,000 which we hope to achieve by the end of this year.”
Nurse consultant Lynne Paterson said that the development is a vital addition to both maternity and neonatal services.
“Sue and Mel have done an amazing job of fundraising and we would like to give our heartfelt thanks to them and all of the wonderfully generous people of Middlesbrough and the surrounding areas who have put their enthusiasm into making this a reality for our parents,” she said.
“Whilst we would not wish the room to be used at all, sadly some parents will experience the loss of a child and this will provide a quiet and beautiful space for them to spend some quality time together in order to say their goodbyes.”
Consultant neonatologist Shalabh Garg, who has worked alongside the family for three years, added: “The opening of Billy’s Room Infinity Suite will bring a proud feeling for his parents and the entire family that his short life is going to make a huge difference to other families in a similar situation.
“Such a project can never be completed without efforts from a number of professionals, but above all enormous efforts from Billy’s family, their friends and support from our local community. All of them have helped in developing this excellent facility which will benefit local families having to face the unfortunate event of a baby born too poorly to survive.”
Billy’s family would like to thank all of the parents and students of Thornton Academy, and the wider community, who have been so generous in their support. If you would to follow their progress, or make a donation, visit www.justgiving/billysroom.