THE fundraising team at the Countess of Chester Hospital has smashed its £2.4m target for the Babygrow Appeal.

The money will pay for a new state-of-the-art neonatal unit more than twice the size of the current one.

Lesley Woodhead, head of fundraising, said: “We’re so happy to have concluded our appeal for £2.4m and plans are now being drawn up to create a neonatal unit that will provide the very best facilities for those that need them.”

The appeal was launched in 2013 with support from numerous city businesses including the Standard, which dedicated a page to the appeal every week.

Major events in the city that have helped raise cash for the appeal include the Santa Dash, Duck Race, and MBNA Chester Marathon.

Lesley added: “We have had so much support from individuals, businesses and the community across Chester we are really grateful and could not have done it without you.

“Special thanks go to the Standard for all your coverage and help. This has had a major impact on the appeal.

“We look forward to sharing our plans in 2018 and wish all readers a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year!”

The target was hit thanks to a £13,000 sum raised at the annual Sportsman’s Lunch at the city’s Crowne Plaza Hotel attended by more than 300 people.

It was supported by Hillyer McKeown and the O2 Business Centre Rainford and included an appearance by goalkeeping legend Bruce Grobbelaar and comedian Dominic Woodward.

Richard Burnett, partner at Hillyer McKeown, said: “We’re proud to have supported this year’s Sportsman’s Lunch which raised £13,000 for one of the region’s most worthy causes, the Countess Charity’s Babygrow Appeal.

“It’s not often that you get to dine with one of your footballing heroes, Bruce Grobbelaar! Thanks to everyone who helped to make it such a success.”

Lauren Dickson, business development manager from the O2 Business Centre in Rainford, said they were proud to have helped the appeal hit its target.

“The team and I from the O2 Business Centre in Rainford really enjoyed the event,” she said. “We’re very proud to have been a sponsor and to have helped support such a worthwhile charity in hitting its fundraising target.

“The venue was very plush, it was a cracking Christmas dinner and the guest speakers were excellent.”