Simpson baby unit benefits from Sophie’s knitathon

AN Edinburgh schoolgirl has led a knitathon of hand-crafted clothes and gifts in tribute to the ­neonatal unit that saved her life.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 7:01 am

Sophie O’Kane, five, was cared for by the specialists at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in The Simpson Centre at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary when she was born prematurely.

The little girl weighed in at a tiny 1lb 15oz at just 25 weeks. Now, five years on, Sophie has teamed up with dad Michael to launch a collection of home-knitted blankets, bonnets and teddy bears for the Simpsons Special Care Babies charity.

The appeal, which was launched on her fifth birthday, saw more than 200 items donated by members of the local community while a bake sale and ­further fundraising generated more than £2,000 for the special cause.

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Mr O’Kane, who offered his Specsavers opticians on Morningside Road as the collection point for the donations, said Sophie came up with the idea to knit the clothes and items for the hospital.

He said: “Sophie has been learning about the support she received when she was born from the wonderful team at Simpsons, looking at photos and ­videos, as well as a little donated ­cardigan that wouldn’t even fit one of her dolls, which we now have framed.

“She asked if we could knit and donate things to help the babies like her.”

He added that it was a “joy” to see the generosity of the Morningside community for the campaign.

Mr O’Kane said: “It was a joy to see the community here in Morningside really get behind her appeal this ­summer.

“People have been so generous with their time and have donated ­beautiful hand-knitted items and vital cash to support this special cause. Sophie and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Virginia Russell, secretary of the Simpsons Special Care Babies charity, thanked everyone who got involved and said the money will go towards improvements in the neonatal unit.

She said: “We were delighted to hear about Sophie’s idea for a knitathon and bake sale and we would like to thank everyone who supported this, either donating knitted items, or contributing through the bake sale.

“We are grateful for all donations we receive from people, whether ­by ­simply donating or from organising and ­participating in fundraising events like Michael and his colleagues.

“Fundraising is vital to our work – this year we are seeking to raise £300,000 towards the improvement of parent facilities in the Neonatal Unit. The funds raised through the bake sale will help us achieve this.”

The Simpson Neonatal Unit is the largest in Scotland. More than 10,000 babies are born in the Lothian Region each year and over 7,000 of these are delivered in the Simpson.