When Scarva couple Mark and Helena Weaving welcomed three bundles of joy into the world they were delighted but also indebted to premature baby charity, TinyLife.
Now, as TinyLife launches an appeal for volunteers, the Weaving family has spoken of their experiences and are encouraging people to come forward to help.
The Weaving babies were born in August 2012 at just 32 weeks - Bradley weighing 3lb 14oz, Lewis weighing 3lb 11oz and Sarah weighing 3lb 7oz.
Helena said, “We were very lucky - we received excellent care from Craigavon Area Hospital Maternity and Neo Natal Unit, and as the babies were all healthy we only had two weeks in the unit before being allowed to bring them home.
“We met TinyLife’s family support officer Janice in the hospital. When the children were a few weeks old TinyLife matched us with a wonderful volunteer called Joan.
“Joan visited us on a weekly basis and it was great to have her help and support. You can imagine with three tiny babies to care for, life was hectic and an extra set of hands was wonderful. I really valued her advice and experience.
“There is great excitement in our house when Joan comes. The children are now three and Joan is like one of the family, she has been there every step of the way.”
Volunteer Joan Smith said, “I have been a volunteer with TinyLife for six and a half years. I just love babies and when I heard about the family support programme I really wanted to get involved.
“Initially I was matched with a family with twin boys born prematurely. Now I volunteer with the Weaving family and absolutely love it.
“The training offered by TinyLife gave me the confidence to support families.
“I would encourage anyone who loves babies to get in touch with TinyLife. My children are now in their twenties so volunteering is like a whole new family for me, it is very rewarding.”
Stephanie Patterson, head of Family Support said, “If you are aged 22 or over and can offer a morning or afternoon each week to support a family with premature or sick babies we would love to hear from you.”
Anyone interested should contact TinyLife on 02890 815050 or go along to the volunteer information roadshow on Friday, September 18, in Newry Library from 10.30–12 noon.
The service is free.
Valerie Cromie, head of fundraising and communication said, “The Family Support Services is and it is therefore vital that we recruit more fundraising volunteers.”