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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Carlisle nurse helping babies in need of special care

Carlisle nurse Gemma Richardson is doing her bit to help premature and sick babies – by donating her breastmilk.

Gemma Richardson photo
Gemma Richardson, husband Neil and children Lucas and Abigail

Gemma, 31, has donated around 100 bottles – more than 10 litres – to the National Milk Bank over the past few months.

She first heard about the chance to help others when her baby son Lucas was just 10 weeks old. After passing screening tests, she started expressing once a day.

Special pick-ups from the family’s home in Irvington, near Kirkpatrick Fleming, are arranged to transport her donations to a Glasgow hospital. From there it is pasteurised and tested before it goes out to babies in need across Scotland.

Pickups are done by bikers from the Scottish Emergency Rider Volunteer Service.

Nursing mothers are asked not to smoke or drink while donating their breast milk.

Gemma, who works at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and is originally from city’s Harraby area, said: “They need a minimum of three litres from you but there is no time limit for doing it. You can do it up until your baby is nine-months-old.”

She hopes her efforts will inspire other new mums to do the same. Premature babies who are fed formula rather than breast milk are more likely to contract serious infections and so the United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking works to support breastfeeding, and the provision of safe donor breast milk for all babies who need it.

While Gemma is caring for the couple’s children – Abigail, aged four, and four-month-old Lucas – her husband Neil has embarked on his own charity challenge.

He will take on Hadrian’s Wall in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The endurance event, organised by RatRace, starts at Carlisle Castle on June 21 and will finish 69 miles later at the Newcastle-Gateshead quayside the following day.

Keen trail runner Neil, who works for Town and Country Interiors in Carlisle’s Victoria Viaduct, said: “The run takes place in June and can be done in one or over two days – I’ve picked the two-day option.

“I started a blog – neilrunsthewall.blogspot.co.uk – so people can keep a track on my training and I’ve got a donating page online too. I’m running four days a week at the minute doing distances of between seven and 24 miles with a backpack on that has first aid, warm clothes and supplies in it.

“I’m really tired from the training but if I can get some more sponsors it’ll help keep me motivated.”

To support Neil go to justgiving.com/Neil-Richardson9 and if you want to find out more about donating breastmilk to vulnerable babies visit www.ukamb.org.

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