Family of Connah's Quay soldier send appeal beyond £1m


Romilly Scragg

AN APPEAL set up in the memory of a soldier who lost his life in Iraq has taken a baby unit appeal to £1m.

Peter McFerran, from Connah’s Quay, died in Iraq while serving in the RAF in 2007.

He was 24.

After his death, parents Bob and Ann McFerran set up a fund in their son’s name in support of the neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Now the fundraising team behind the hospital’s Babygrow Appeal, launched in December 2012, have revealed the McFerrans’ latest donation of £10,000 has taken the appeal to the £1m milestone.

The Babygrow Appeal is now one third of the way to the £3m needed to build a new neonatal unit at the hospital

When Peter McFerran was born eight weeks prematurely on November 26, 1982, his parents were told he had just three days left to live.

“He was 4.9 pounds,” said Mrs McFerran. “He was a tough nut but he couldn’t eat and he couldn’t breathe.”

The tiny baby was placed in an incubator in the neonatal unit and, by the third day, Mrs McFerran said: “He’d filled out and was breathing for himself.

“He was being fed by a drip but he was conscious of things around him.

“He thrived because of their help and because of all the care he got,” she said.

“I can still remember their words when they said I could take him home.

“The nurse said: ‘Peter made five pounds. He’s just been weighed. Do you want to come and get him?’”

Bob said: “The aftercare was really good too because Peter had check-ups at the hospital until he was 12-months-old. He ended up a lot stronger than a lot of children the same age.

“He never got colds or any problems like that. I think that really helped.”

Peter grew up to become a keen sportsman, joining Deeside Judo Club, Mold Rugby Club, Northop Hall hockey team and enjoyed swimming, interests he pursued after joining the RAF in 2004.

Tragically, in July 2007, aged 24, Peter was killed in a rocket attack while serving in Iraq.

After his funeral, Ann and Bob wrote to the unit.

“We wanted to say thank you for 24 wonderful years which without them we wouldn’t have had,” said Ann.

“He was given just three days to live. We had him for 24 years. We’re grateful for that.”

The couple set up the Peter McFerran Incubator Appeal and when enough money was raised for the incubator, they decided to carry on raising money for the neonatal unit for as long as they could.

The Peter McFerran Appeal has paid for resuscitators and other equipment for the unit and has now agreed to support the Babygrow Appeal.

“We didn’t want Peter’s life to have been wasted,” said Ann. “His memory has been kept alive and it’s helped us too.

“Babies are all special. We want to help give other people the chance that we had and that Peter had. That’s all we want to do.”

Head of fundraising Janet Ratcliffe said: “Bob and Ann are an amazing, inspirational couple. They have already purchased a new incubator for the neonatal unit, and following this latest donation of £10,000 have pledged to continue supporting us in any way they can.”

Ann and daughter Elaine are taking part in the Babygrow Zip Wire Challenge on June 28.

Other events planned include an Auction of Promises planned for October 24, hopefully in Connah’s Quay’s Civic Hall.

Each year Ann also completes a sponsored walk from Connah’s Quay to the hospital “whatever the weather” on the Saturday nearest to Peter’s birthday.

This year it will take place on November 29.

See full story in the Leader

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