November 11, 2018
SENSATIONAL Singing Sue’s Vocal Academy Ladies’ Choir fills cathedral with their voices to raise money for families across the region with sick and premature babies.
The Ladies’ choir took to the stage in the Coulby Newham Cathedral back in July to raise money with Leo’s, a newly formed charity which supports families through pregnancy, the neonatal period and in to childhood. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the region to offer the level of care it provides.
More than 50 women belted out classics including The Greatest Showman ‘This Is Me’, ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and Christina Perri’s ‘1,000 Years’. Many took to the stage to do various solos or duets including ‘Mother Knows Best’ from Disney’s Tangled and ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Disney’s Moana.
The night was a roaring success with more than £2,600 being raised, the highest amount the group has ever raised for a single charity.
Leo’s shared on the night, that the money raised would be spent on purchasing welcome boxes for the neonatal units at The James Cook University Hospital, and both Darlington and North Durham Special Care Baby Units.
The boxes have been carefully curated by Leo’s, with the help of previous neonatal parents and its expert board of trustees, to offer support when they are admitted to the unit.
The boxes include, bespoke milestone cards for families to keep, bonding squares for parents and baby to share their scents and encourage bonding, a hand & foot ink print kit, a reading book, hand cream, lip balm, photo frame, a dedicated neonatal journal, a letter from a previous neonatal parent and much more.
The boxes, the charity hopes, will bring comfort to parents in a time of uncertainty and trauma.
Lottie King, Founder of Leo’s and Leo’s mum, said: “Being able to give a family a gift filled with items to help them as they go through their time on a neonatal unit is so important to us.
“When you arrive on the unit, you’re like a deer caught in the headlights, we hope, our boxes will give families some much needed support and guide them on how to make special memories with their little one.
“We’ve all worked so hard to make these boxes and even had the help of the choir ladies to pack them for us.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to Sue and all the ladies who sang that evening, it was such an emotional night remembering Leo and having everyone in that room so supportive of the work we wanted to do. They’re part of the family now.”
Susan Capes – Bunnet, founder and director of Singing Sue’s Vocal Academy, said: “Singing Sue’s Vocal Academy is proud to have been at the start of Leo’s charity journey. To raise in excess of £2,000 for this wonderful charity was remarkable.
“Neonatal care is very close to my heart, as my twin boys were born at 33 weeks on Christmas Day in 2004 and they spent a total of seven weeks on the unit.
“The nurses were incredible with my boys, however I felt I wasn’t prepared for the road ahead both mentally and emotionally.
“I think the use of the welcome box is just fantastic and will be very reassuring and informative to new arrivals on the units. I wish Leo’s all the success and look forward to continuing to support and work with them.”
Barbara Hodgson, founding member of Singing Sue’s Vocal Academy Ladies Choir, said: “I have been a member of the choir since it began six years ago. I love every minute of it and it’s so very rewarding to do something so enjoyable whilst raise money for charity at the same time.
“It has been a privilege to be involved with Leo’s from the start of their journey, and it makes all our hard work and rehearsing we do, very worthwhile. I wish Leo’s continuing success in the future.”
The first boxes were donated to the neonatal unit at The James Cook University Hospital this week and were greatly received by the staff there.
Leo’s has now set up a campaign to help continually fund the boxes, which cost £25 each to make, people can donate to help the charity here https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/leosbuyabox
Leo’s charity launched in September 2018 and was set up in memory of Leo King – Feasey who sadly died four hours after birth. The charity has been set up by his mum Lottie King and includes an expert board of trustees from various fields including neonatal nursing, allied health, paediatrics, midwifery, public relations, business management and more.
The charity supports families on neonatal units at The James Cook University Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital & The University Hospital of North Durham. It also supports maternity services at The University Hospital of North Tees, The Northern Neonatal Network and The Northern Neonatal Transfer Service.