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‘Miracle Ball’ Raises Magnificent £18,915 to Give More Women the Chance of Childbirth

Newsdate: 16 January 2014

After the birth of her first grandchild at Wigan Infirmary, one local grandmother has thanked staff at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust’s Assisted Conception service by raising a massive £18,915 for new equipment to give more local parents the chance to experience the miracle of a child.

After Jane and Nik Stuart-Puttnam's "miracle" son Sebastian was born at Wigan Infirmary in 2012, Jane’s proud mother Wendy Stuart organised and hosted ‘The Miracle Ball’ at the DW Stadium, compered by BBC Chief News Reporter, Dave Guest.

Helped by a team of dedicated supporters including staff from Barclays Bank in Wigan and WWL’s Three Wishes hospital charity, the Miracle Ball saw over 300 guests donate an impressive £18,915 through ticket sales, grand raffle and fundraising auction.

WWL Three Wishes Fundraising Manager, Elizabeth Titley, said; "Thanks to the miraculous efforts of Wendy Stuart, her dedicated band of helpers and the generosity of many local businesses, the Miracle Ball turned out to be a fantastic success.”

Jane Stuart-Puttnam explained: “The Miracle Ball was quite emotional for me knowing that the new equipment at Leigh Infirmary will now be able to help so many other couples conceive.

“I'd always known there was a chance I'd need to have fertility treatment. My GP referred my husband and I to the Assisted Conception Unit at Leigh Infirmary and with the help of Mr. Harris and his team, everything turned out perfectly and Sebastian is now a wonderful, healthy, happy little boy.”
Around 1 in 6 couples face problems trying to conceive and every year the number of people who have to turn to some form of assisted conception or IVF is increasing. For more than 25 years, the WWL Assisted Conception Clinic has helped hundreds of couples living in Wigan, Leigh and surrounding towns to conceive. 
Julie Kelly from Barclays Bank and Miracle Ball organiser Wendy Stuart handover the cheque for £18,915 to WWL Gynaecologist Philip Harris Mr Philip Harris, WWL consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, commented: “All the staff at the Assisted Conception Unit were delighted to share in the family’s happiness following the success of Jane’s fertility treatment. Thanks to the Miracle Ball, our new equipment will ensure the Clinic keeps up-to-date with new techniques and developments which will help more couples achieve a pregnancy and their desire for a family.”

Mr. Harris and the Assisted Conception team have invested proceeds from the Miracle Ball to purchase The Sperminator®, state of the art computer assisted semen analyser which drastically reduces the time it takes WWL scientists to evaluate semen.

WWL Chief Biomedical Scientist Lesley Walsh explains: “Manual semen analysis is a laborious and time consuming process; over a thousand sperm are counted for one test! The Sperminator® will analyse a sample accurately, in just a few minutes. This will not only save time, it will also help improve skills and staff training.”
The £18,915 fundraising total includes generous matched funding from four staff working at Barclays Bank Wigan Marketplace branch. Julie Kelly, Joan Fiendley, Shaunaugh McKie and Treena Hughes volunteered to donate their time, skills and energy to ensure the Miracle Ball was such an outstanding success.

Julie Kelly from Barclays Bank said: “Barclays has a fantastic community investment programme that encourages employees to get involved in charities and causes that are important to them. It’s about giving back our skills, time, and energy to support good causes – so we’re thrilled to have raised money for such a wonderful purpose.”
“Meeting Phil Harris and his team on Ward 2 at Leigh Infirmary was a like a breath of fresh air. We were made to feel at ease, they answered all our questions and I can honestly say we wouldn't have received any better treatment if we had opted for private healthcare,” enthuses Jane Stuart-Puttnam.

“Sebastian was born two weeks early on 17 April 2012 and we spent eight days in hospital. He has completely changed our lives and we couldn't imagine life without him.”

In the pictures above:

Top: Staff from WWL Assisted Conception Clinic pictured with Miracle Ball organisers and Barclays Bank staff
Bottom: Julie Kelly from Barclays Bank and Miracle Ball organiser Wendy Stuart handover the cheque for £18,915 to WWL Gynaecologist Philip Harris