A little boy who was born at just 23 weeks has melted the hearts of two nurses who have raised more than £2,000 for a charity which helped his family.

Nikki Nicholls, 44, and Kate Ward, 44, both nurses at Southend Hospital, decided to organise the fundraiser in support of their friend Anita Hyams, whose son William was born 16 weeks early and underwent specialist, lifesaving treatment at the Royal London Children’s Hospital for the first three months of his life.

Throughout this time Anita, her husband Dan, and their two young daughters, Marion and Olivia, were given a room at Stevenson House, a "Home from Home" run by the charity and located just moments from the paediatric intensive care unit where William was being treated. Nikki, who works alongside Anita as a critical care nurse at the hospital, said: “William’s start to life was very rocky. The doctors made it clear to Anita and Dan that it was going to be an uphill struggle if William was to survive and that he needed to grow without any further complications. He remained on a ventilator for 45 days, which was incredibly traumatic for the family.

“It is very clear to everyone just how much The Sick Children’s Trust helped our friends throughout such a distressing ordeal and, as a nurse and mum of four myself, I really understood how much it meant to them to be able to stay as a family in Stevenson House. They couldn’t have been more complimentary about the amazing staff who supported them or the facilities, and it also took away a lot of financial pressure for Anita and Dan."

Nikki added: “The Sick Children’s Trust had such a big impact on our friends; it is because of this that Kate and I decided we wanted to raise money for the charity that helped them. We created the grid and tried to sell the 500 tickets to friends, family members and by word of mouth and it went really well. We started selling the tickets last October after William was transferred back to Southend Hospital and pulled the winning ticket just a few weeks ago. We’re so pleased as we know this money will make a huge difference in supporting more families with seriously ill children in hospital.”

The nurses managed to raise £2,080 for the Sick Children’s Trust, which runs ten Homes from Home across the country, supporting families like William’s with free accommodation, whilst their child is being treated in hospital.

Mum, Anita, who finally took William home for the first time on 8 October 8 2017, 123 days after his birth, said: “We can’t thank Nikki and Kate enough for raising such an incredible amount for the charity that was our lifeline during a very dark time. That first week after William arrived was terrible, but being given a room in a ‘Home from Home’ meant his sisters could stay with us which was important as they were very distressed and we needed to be together as a family. The staff at Stevenson House were so fantastic with them and knew exactly what to say to cheer them up. I will never forget how kind they were to my daughters. Stevenson House really helped the girls cope, which in turn helped us to cope. They loved the TV rooms and the playroom and I was able to cook us normal family dinners in the kitchen – being so young that kind of continuity was very important for them.”

The Sick Children’s Trust relies entirely on voluntary donations and, whilst accommodation in a ‘Home from Home’ is free for families, it costs the charity £30 to support a family for one night.

For further information about The Sick Children’s Trust, please visit: http://www.sickchildrenstrust.org/