PRAISE has come in thick and fast for the plans unveiled in The Standard last week for the new neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

On Monday evening representatives of the Babygrow Appeal committee met to look at the plans in detail and see the actual site it will be built on.

Lesley Woodhead, head of fundraising, said “The Appeal Committee has put hundreds and hundreds of hours in to making this happen and it was great to be able to thank them and show them the plans. It was a very noisy and exciting meeting.”

Supported by its media partner The Standard, The Babygrow Appeal raised a staggering £2.4 million from its launch in 2013.

The money will pay for a new extended unit that, once complete, will be more than twice the size of the current one.

Subject to approval by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee, it is hoped that work will begin on the facility in October with a grand opening pencilled in for September next year.

Businesswoman and mum Leila Bibby chaired the committee and had twins on the unit. Leila organised three balls and was involved in many events, including Ladies’ Lunches.

She said: “I am thrilled that we now have plans for the new Special Care baby Unit. This is the first unit in the country to be designed with family integrated care. The new unit will make such a difference to the parents and siblings and most importantly the babies who sometimes spend months in the unit being cared for.

“I would like to thank everyone that supported the appeal in whatever way – you are all a part of making this happen.”

Denis Stevenson, vice chair and organiser of the popular Sporting Lunches in December, added: “The plans for the baby unit are fantastic. They bring to life all the hard work by so many people to ensure this special project became reality.”

Eric Henderson, marathon runner, bike rider and dad, said: “It’s been a long time coming and a huge amount of work but seeing the plans for the new unit today is both very emotional and exciting. I am very proud to have been a part of the team.”

Neil Badge, fundraiser, bike rider, dad and now expert duck racer, said: “It has been such a privilege to be a part of this charity. Babygrow is close to our hearts in helping Dominic grow in to the strong boy he is. It’s been well worth all the training in the cold dark nights raising money for such a fantastic cause.”

Ian Gibbons, King of the Santa Dash, said: “This is like all our Christmas’s coming at once. This is the moment we have all worked so hard for.”

And the Countess of Chester Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Alison Kelly, said: “Our new neonatal unit will be one of the first in the country designed to deliver truly family integrated care. With exceptional facilities for patients and staff it will enable us to deliver the very best care for our patients and their families.”