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An introduction to NICU North Bristol, National Friendly's charity of the year for 2019

In November last year, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee asked every member of staff to nominate a new charity of the year for 2019. Each member of staff who nominated a charity, had to provide background information regarding what the charity does and why it resonates so much with them personally.

In total, there were five charities put forward and a poll was sent out to all staff members, who then had to vote for one cause to be our new charity of the year. The charity with the most votes was Southmead Hospital Charity’s NICU fund, which was nominated by our Sales Support Team Leader, Louise Webber.

Kurtis Reece sat down with Louise for an in-depth conversation to discuss her nominated charity and why it’s so important that National Friendly get behind this charity:

What can you tell me about Southmead Hospital Charity's NICU fund?

NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is a specialist unit that looks after sick, premature babies from all over the country.

Why is this charity to important to you?

This charity is important to me as both of my sons started their life in the unit. Without the help and specialist assistance from the unit I have no idea how I would have coped with giving birth to 2 premature sons.

Louise's son at a fewLouise's son Brandon, on the left at just 2 days old, on the right at 18 years old. 

What type of support does Southmead Hospital Charity offer to families/community?

The charity now offers families a place to stay, so they can be as close to their new born babies as possible. Most parents will have their new baby and be able to go home with their new baby and be a family within a day or two. Babies in the unit are often there for weeks/months and parents including myself used to have to be discharged from hospital leaving their new baby behind. I personally felt lost and anxious, I had a variety of mixed emotions after giving birth and I found it difficult being separated from my baby at night. The charity has since raised enough funds to provide accommodation for parents and staff to be close to the babies. They also provide bonnets and blankets for the babies and the extra tiny nappies that are required.

Why is it important for National Friendly employees to support and raise money for this charity?

I know of one other member of staff who has had a premature baby and others who know of family members/friends, whose babies have started their life in the unit. I have seen first-hand how fantastic the unit is, considering the constant strains/cuts the NHS is experiencing. With most of us being parents (or wanting to be parents), it would be great to help a local unit that looks after new babies who need a little help at the start of their life.

What do you have planned to raise money for this charity?

I am planning on running the Bristol 10k and am also looking to do a swimathon.

Do you have a motivational/inspirational message for anyone who isn’t aware of this charity?

My son Cameron, was born weighing 1lb1Oz and my second son Brandon, was born weighing 3lb 9oz. This unit treated me like a queen, both times I was there with my sons. They supported me through the unfortunate loss of my first son and spent two months looking after my second son. I visit the unit every year on Cameron’s birthday and spent time in the room dedicated to parents like me. Each year, I look through the books and it’s amazing to see over the years how the loss of babies has declined. I know that this is to do with research/technology being advanced, but also it is due to the charity and the staff for all of the extras that they do to give these babies the very best chance of a start in life. I would love for National Friendly to really get behind this charity in 2019 and give even more local families the great care that I and my sons had.

To find out more about Southmead Hospital Charity's NICU fund and how you can raise money, visit

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