The Early Birth Association (EBA)
The Early Birth Association was formed on the 20th May 1983 with the help and advice of a Consultant Paediatrician who was aware of the need to offer practical help and support to parents going through an extremely difficult time when their babies are in hospital. To this day we are pleased to continue to be there for the families and their babies along with the staff on the units. We are all volunteers and are parents, family and friends of babies that were cared for on the units. We joined The EBA as a way of showing our appreciation for the care our babies received, and to help the families and babies who need the units now and in the future. We also have a very close working relationship with the staff from the Units with nurses, the matron from the units and a consultant joining us as members of our committee. This means we can work even more quickly and responsively to the needs of the units to make a positive difference for everyone there. Check out our ‘What we do’ page and explore all the drop down menus on the page for examples of all the things we are able to offer the units.
We are always excited to hear from new supporters and members so please get in touch.
You can find out more about our EBA Committee Members below. We can be contacted through the contact form online, or through the Units.
Heidi Crawford Charity Co-Chair and Unit Rep TMBU
I became involved with the EBA 2 years after my eldest son was treated on TMBU suffering from birth asphyxia. He was given a 50:50 chance of survival and only a 1 in 8 chance of not having any brain damage. It is only due to the incredible team on the unit and the fantastic facilities and equipment available that he is a happy, healthy 9 year old.
My family owes the unit everything and without them we wouldn’t have our brilliant boy which is why I wanted to become involved and give something back. I also wanted to be able to help and support other parents going through a similar nightmare as well as raise awareness and fundraise to enable the unit to continue to treat babies in the best environment with the best resources.”
Michelle Miles Charity Co-Chair and Unit Rep PRH
My name is Michelle and I joined The Early Birth Association committee in 2011 following the birth of my second son Luke in 2010.
Being part of The Early Birth Association has enabled me to help and support parents who are going through the emotional strain of their child being unwell. In 2015 I became a Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Volunteer which enables me to visit the units, run coffee mornings and be a representative of the charity within the Special Care Baby Unit in Haywards Heath. Over the years, not only have I been involved in the EBA but I am also part of The Parent Forum, and have been involved in the Bliss Audit and Development Group as a Parent for the Princess Royal Hospital.
I feel very passionate about what the EBA has done in the past and now accepting the role of being Co-Chairperson enables me, with a brilliant team of committee members, to continue this legacy into the future. We will continue to be able to provide the neonatal units we support with more and more items that is required to help the staff that look after the babies, parents and their families in their care.
Wayne Lawrence Treasurer
My motivation for being involved as a fundraiser and treasurer came from being given a blanket while on the unit. Lewy was born in Eastbourne at 30 weeks in April 2007 after an emergency C section, the Trevor Mann Baby Unit staff took six hours to get him stable enough to transfer. He was suffering from a blood infection, gut infection, low blood pressure and bleeding on the brain.
Lewy’s condition was critical and we were made aware of how crucial the first 24 hours would be, receiving a blood transfusion in the ambulance on route to Brighton. I was allowed to stay in Brighton hospital with Tracy for the first 5 days, with Tracy staying for 11 days. By day 5 Lewy was more stable he was breathing without oxygen, the bleeding on the brain had stopped but was not tolerating his 1ml 4 hourly feeds. I felt fairly comfortable leaving my wife and new baby as the standard of care was exceptional.
Before I left I was given a fleece blanket from Lewy’s incubator to take home, the smell would keep me close to Lewy. It would then be swapped daily so we could be close to each other. It was only after leaving the unit that I found out the blanket that I took home each night was supplied by the Early Birth Association.
On day 8 Lewy was allowed out of the incubator for a cuddle, he was also weighed for the first time, weighing 3lb. Lewy suffered a setback on day 15, developing an infection through a long line, which caused him to stop breathing. He managed to fight the infection and bounce back within a few days, then transferred back to Eastbourne Special Care Baby Unit after 3 weeks.
Lewy’s early start hasn’t affected his development, he now represents his school in Football, Hockey, Swimming, Golf and Cricket. He is also the youngest golfer to record a Hole in One at the Royal Eastbourne golf club, four days before his 7th birthday. None of this would have been possible without the incredible care given by the Consultants, Doctors and Nurses of the TMBU, supported by the EBA.
Jemma Roberts Committee Member & Trustee
My daughter Tilly was born at 24+5 weeks by emergency caesarean in January 2014, after I developed pre-eclampsia. Tilly spent 143 days in the TMBU and SCBU before coming home in June 2014. She spent 6.5 months at home but unfortunately became poorly in January 2015 with a winter virus. Tilly spent the next 10 months in various PICU’s and at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, but sadly passed away in November 2015 after further complications.
I will always be extremely grateful to the staff at the TMBU and SCBU for taking care of Tilly, as well as myself and my Husband Andi. I joined the EBA as a committee member in 2016 as I wanted to be able to give back to the units that looked after Tilly so amazingly well – the huge cost of specialist equipment is often not covered by the NHS, but more than that, the EBA gives the personal touch that a lot of larger charities aren’t able to provide to families. It is an extremely distressing time when you have a baby/babies in the NICU and the EBA aims to help provide a more supportive environment for those parents and guide them through a situation we have been in ourselves. I am very proud to be part of the EBA and what we stand for and hope that the items we provide help ease the difficult times, even if just a little.
Julie Lester Committee Member, Trustee, Unit Rep TMBU and Website/Facebook Coordinator
I am mum to two miracle children both now at Primary School. I have experienced having both a premature and unwell baby, as my daughter Kaitlynn was born 7 weeks early in 2010 and spent a month in hospital, and then in 2014 my son Samuel was born 4 weeks early and developed a very serious infection that lead to him having meningitis and encephalitis. My nephew also spent time in TMBU in 2012. I have therefore seen the amazing work our local neonatal units do firsthand and spent time in TMBU and Worthing SCBU with my babies. I am forever thankful for all that the units did for us during those very difficult times.
I often think back to the small moments of comfort that I found during those very difficult days, and how important these were to me, my baby and my whole family. When Samuel was fighting for his life in TMBU I met with two representatives from the EBA and spent some time having a much needed cuppa and chatting with Heidi. It was so great to just have another parent to talk to who understood what we were going through. I now volunteer by going to do the TMBU coffee mornings with Heidi and it’s really nice to be able to give something back to the unit in this way.
When Samuel was transported to TMBU, I was also very thankful for a toiletries kit The EBA provided for me, as I arrived at the unit after his emergency transfer without any essentials left for myself. The stock of tea and coffee and biscuits provided by The EBA in the parents’ kitchen was also much appreciated!
I initially joined the EBA as a supporter, helping with fundraising events and supporting projects when I could. As my son’s health needs settled down a bit I wanted to become more involved and joined the committee and am also now a Trustee. I really enjoy being able to work with other EBA members to continue to support the units with the amazing things we are able to do. I especially enjoy helping out in the TMBU Parents Forum by providing parental feedback on research projects on the unit as I can see how these can lead to direct improvements for babies and families on the units in the future. I’m also so pleased we are able to help fund the vital equipment for the units like that which helped to save my son’s life. My husband is a web developer and between us we also work on keeping The EBA website up to date.
Charlotte Albrecht Committee Member
I first became aware of the TMBU and The EBA in September 2018, when I went into premature labour with my first baby Hettie, who arrived more than eight weeks early weighing 3lb 8oz.
During the month we spent in hospital we met some of the kindest and most dedicated staff and volunteers who supported me, Hettie and our family through the hardest weeks of my life.After we left the unit we vowed we would do all we could to give back to the TMBU and the EBA,so they can continue to help other families needing their expertise and care.
Kirsten Genard Committee Member
Info coming soon
Jenni Reilly Committee Member
Nicola Eastwood-Freeman Committee Member and Secretary.
I’m a proud mum to my superhuman son Ellis, who was born at 25 + 2 weeks back in April 2019.
Ellis spent a total of 96 days in the TMBU with a brief visit to the SCBU based at PRH.
During our time there I remember seeing the colourful yellow T-shirts worn by members of The EBA and stumbling across a volunteer restocking the snack tin. It was at that moment I said to myself that when Ellis was out the other side, I would contribute back to the units in any way I could.
The nurses and doctors on the unit were incredible. Their care for Ellis was second to none and the emotional support they provided to me was priceless.
I developed bonds with some nurses that are truly magical and I will never be able to express my gratitude enough for saving Ellis’ life.
Since Ellis has been out of hospital I have fundraised for the EBA through different events, and in December 2020 I joined The EBA as a committee member and as their secretary.
It is an absolute privilege to be part of the charity and to be able to give back to those that gave so much to Ellis and me.
Claire Hunt Committee Member, Trustee and Neonatal Matron - TMBU and PRH
Claire joined The EBA Committee and became a Trustee of the Charity which helps us to make sure we are always working alongside the units and staff to support them in the best way with their amazing work for the babies and families.
Rachel Beston Committee Member and Neonatal Nurse TMBU
Rachel is a Neonatal Nurse and has been a valued Committee Member of The EBA since 2019. Below Rachel tells us why she chose to become a neonatal nurse:
‘From a young age I had always wanted wanted to be a nurse and I was thrilled when I qualified as a children’s nurse. After a few years I decided to apply for a job on the Trevor Mann Baby unit. I loved the thought of working with premature and sick babies and their families. I really wanted to work in an area of nursing where you could make a real difference and knowing that by providing a high standard of care you could have a really positive influence on the health and future development of the babies in your care.
I completely underestimated what the role would mean to me and how much I would love it.Working on a neonatal intensive care unit is such an intense privilege. On a daily basis you see the tiniest and most fragile babies beat the odds and become stronger and healthier hour by hour, day by day.
You get to know and work in partnership with their amazing families who are going through the worst times of their lives but who find every last bit of courage they have to be the strength their babies need to fight and flourish. You get to work with a truly incredible team who genuinely care for each and every baby and strive to do their absolute best to provide the best care possible.
The absolute best thing about being a neonatal nurse is experiencing the intense satisfaction of discharging a baby who you’ve looked after since they were tiny and know they have been through hell and back and are now fat, happy and healthy and are going home to be with their families where they belong.
Being a neonatal nurse is the best job in the world and I couldn’t imagine myself working anywhere else.”
Eleanor Turk Committee Member and Neonatal Nurse TMBU
Eleanor is a Neonatal Nurse and has been a valued Committee Member of The EBA since 2019.
Below Eleanor tells us why she chose to become a neonatal nurse and why she joined The EBA.
‘I graduated as a paediatric nurse from Oxford Brookes University in 2012 and moved back to my home town of Brighton to be close to my family and partner again. The same year I started working at the Trevor Mann Baby Unit and now cannot imagine myself anywhere else. I am passionate about my profession and am keen to continue to improve the services we provide to our patients and their family on the unit. This enthusiasm increased after attending a teaching session on family centred developmental care by Inga Warren early on in my career. I feel strongly about the importance of involving the family in the care of their baby in any way they can, it has so many benefits for both baby and family. Because of this, I became involved with the Bliss Baby Charter. This is an ongoing audit to improve the services provided on the unit. This is also the reason I joined the EBA committee, to help improve services for the family by raising funds for the units.
Outside of work I enjoy morris dancing as part of a local women’s side. Many people are surprised to hear that I morris dance, mainly because I am not a middle aged man with a beard and beer belly. I’ve been dancing from an early age, and started this particular form when I was 11. I find it a great form of exercise and I get to meet lots of people through it. I also love animals, and have had many pets growing up. At the moment I don’t own any pets as I am busy caring for my very active and mischievous son. When I do manage to grab 5 minutes to myself I like to go out into the garden if the weather is nice, or binge watch the latest trashy series on TV while consuming a large amount of chocolate.’
Dawn Fish Committee Member, Neonatal Nurse and Staff Representative for PRH SCBU
Dawn has been a member of The EBA representing PRH SCBU for many years and is a valued member of our Committee who helps us ensure we support the staff, babies and families at PRH.
Ryan Watkins Dr Ryan Watkins. Consultant, Chief of Service (Women’s and Children’s services) - TMBU Staff Representative
Ryan has supported and worked with The EBA for many years and is a key member of the TMBU Parents Forum.
The Early Birth Association are registered on Virgin Money Giving,
where you are able to make a donation directly to us and set up your
own fundraising page for any events that you do.
For further advice and support please also see the useful links and information at the bottom of the website.