by JENNY MONROE
MOIRA couple has helped launch a star-studded ball aimed at
raising funds for a premature baby charity.
Parents Andrew and Julie Hood whose twin sons
were born at only 27 weeks are strong supporters of Carryduff
based charity TinyLife which has organised the upcoming Diamond
Gala Ball at La Mon Hotel next month.
The couple's sons Scott and Jamie, now aged
22-months, spent the first 10 weeks of their lives in hospital -
first at the Royal Victoria in Belfast and later at Craigavon
Area Hospital. Scott scaled in at only 2lbs 9oz, while his
'younger' brother weighed 21b, 5 oz when born.
Julie Hood explained why TinyLife means so
much to her: "I was introduced to TinyLife while the boys were
in Craigavon hospital and the support worker assigned to me
provided invaluable help during those exhausting and emotionally
fraught early days, when my husband Andrew and I really didn't
know what was around the next corner.
"I can honestly say TinyLife helped me get my
life back and I don't know what I would have done without them."
Julie was particularly grateful for the
charity's help, as over the past five years she has lost twin
boys born prematurely at 19 and 22 weeks and also suffered two
She said: "It was obviously a very traumatic
time for us all, and then when I went into premature labour
again with Scott and Jamie at only 22 weeks, it was another
"Thankfully, with five weeks total bed rest,
the boys didn't arrive until I had reached 27 weeks, which gave
"Today, they are normal, healthy, boisterous
toddlers and quite a handful at times - but we are just
extremely grateful they are here," she added.
Sharon Corr from The Corrs has become an
official patron for the charity TinyLife. The mum of two babies
said she was honoured to lend her support to the charity, whose
work is very close to her heart as she experienced the anxiety
of having a premature baby herself.
Dr Suresh Tharma is consultant neonatologist
and director of 3fivetwo Healthcare Gold who are sponsors of the
TinyLife's Diamond Gala Ball.
He said: "TinyLife provides the practical and
emotional support needed by parents whose child has been born
early, often with many medical needs which are frightening in
any circumstances." Said Dr Tharma. " This charity will touch so
many families and no one ever knows when they or their children
will need this support."
The fund-raising Diamond Ball takes place on
Saturday, November 8, and will be hosted by BBC presenters
Jackie Fullerton and Sarah Travers,. another TinyLife patron.
Guests will enjoy a five-course meal and
entertainment from The Untouchables and comedian Sean Crummey.
There will also be a raffle, auction and tombola, as well as the
chance to win a loose diamond in a diamond draw.