Lady Sarra Hoy has begun her new role as official ambassador for Bliss Scotland, the charity for babies born premature or sick.
Sarra – mum to Callum, who was born prematurely at 29 weeks – will be a major voice for the 5,800 babies born each year in Scotland needing lifesaving neonatal care, and will also help to ensure their families are as involved as possible in their care.
Sarra will raise awareness of all that Bliss Scotland can offer them; celebrate the work of Bliss Scotland’s volunteers, campaigners and fundraisers; and champion Bliss Scotland’s support for healthcare professionals and researchers who are caring for babies born premature or sick or striving to improve their lives.
Sarra attended the launch of the Bliss Scotland Baby Report 2017, which found that three quarters of neonatal units in Scotland are failing to meet minimum safe staffing levels. In January she visited the neonatal unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and regularly shares her own experiences on social media to support parents and families with babies currently receiving neonatal care.
Sarra said: “Since our dark days in neonatal intensive care with Callum, I have learned so much about having a premature baby. Many of these babies are born much earlier than Callum was and I understand how fortunate we are to have had such a positive outcome.
“Having a baby on a neonatal unit can be a very lonely experience, yet thousands of families go through this every year. I look back now and realise that all the emotions I went through, including the ones I barely dared to verbalise, were not unusual. In fact they were very typical. I wasn’t alone after all.
“This is why I am such a proud and passionate supporter of the work Bliss Scotland does. They provide information and advice, and offer essential emotional support, both on the neonatal unit itself and beyond. All of this empowers parents and families, which in turn helps them to care for their babies, in a situation where they often feel powerless and out of control.
“The more we can do to let families of babies in neonatal care know that they are not alone, then the better the outcome for their babies. I am looking forward to what lies ahead and can’t wait to start this journey with Bliss Scotland.”
Sarra – a lawyer by profession and wife of hero Olympian cyclist Sir Chris Hoy MBE – became unwell at only 27 weeks whilst pregnant with Callum, who had to be delivered 11 weeks early by emergency caesarean section. He weighed just 2lbs 2oz and spent 60 days in neonatal care.
Happily, today Callum is a thriving two year old toddler, but Sarra said: “He looked like a frail little bird that had fallen from its nest. From nowhere, I was signed up and given lifelong membership to a club I never wanted to join, nor even imagined existed. I was utterly terrified by what I saw and was scared at what the future held for us all.”
Caroline Lee-Davey, Bliss Scotland chief executive, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Sarra on board as Bliss Scotland’s new ambassador. Ensuring the voices of premature and sick babies and their families are heard is such an important part of our work and having Sarra on our team to help us achieve this will make a huge difference.”