NI friends hosting fundraising event for neonatal units after sons born premature

Two Northern Ireland friends have embarked on a fundraising mission to give back to nurses who cared for their sons when they were born premature.

Ian Campbell's son Bertie was born in February, four weeks early, spending the first 24 hours of his life in Craigavon Area Hospital's Neonatal Unit. He spent another five days in the main ward as he required observation and medication before being discharged.

Philip Somerville's son Jack was born 10 weeks early back in October 2021 and spent five days in the Royal Jubilee NICU. The tot then spent a further 57 days in Craigavon Area Hospital NICU where he was weaned off oxygen and taught how to bottle feed.

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Speaking to Belfast Live, Ian said that the nurses in both hospitals "were like family" to them.

"They had seen us at our most vulnerable," the Co Armagh man added.

"We will forever be grateful for everything the staff at both hospitals did for Jack and Bertie. To raise money and awareness for the neonatal units at both hospitals our plan is to organise the best car show and family fun day we can in Armagh - Jack and Bertie’s Car Show Bonanza.

"We both wanted to give back something to say thanks to the staff for all the help and care they gave to Bertie and Jack, and to their mums, and organising a car show was our idea, as we are keen car enthusiasts."

Jack and Bertie’s Car Show Bonanza will take place at Armagh Place Demesne on Saturday June 1, 2024. The family has organised a number of special cars already confirmed to be part of the special displays. These include a number of ex-works and other rally Minis, classic & Group B rally cars and a display showcasing Motorsport through different disciplines.

"We also have a good number of car clubs with stands booked and an eclectic mix of cars already booked in through our Eventbrite page - the oldest is 1912 and youngest so far is 2016, and everything in between," Ian added.

"Incidentally, Philip and I are travelling to England a few days before the show to collect a very special Mini as part of our special display area. Minisport in Padiham have very kindly offered us the loan of a very special Mini, especially for us in Northern Ireland.

"The car in question is a perfect replica of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini that was driven by Northern Ireland rally legend, the late Paddy Hopkirk, and the replica itself was built by a good friend of the Mini community here in Northern Ireland, the late Graham McConnell of Co Down.

"Minisport director Chris Harper has offered us the Mini as 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the win and the 10th anniversary of Paddy Hopkirk being honoured by the city of Belfast by being presented with the key of the city. To have this Mini on display is an amazing privilege and honour.

"This Mini is just one of several very special and rare cars that the public will be able to see. We have been sharing sneak previews of some of these cars on our social medial pages.

"The show is open to all make, models and years of cars, and we have a prepaid entry system on Eventbrite for those that want to take advantage of discounted rate (£10 plus small Eventbrite admin fee) and to guarantee a space (we are limiting the event to approx 180 cars), but we are also offering pay on the day at £13 per vehicle.

"General public admission is free. In addition to the cars on display we have our trade village and craft fayre, local food vendors and also activities for the children. All in all fun for all the family.

“We would especially like to thank the following for their support;

  • Saltmarine Cars (as main sponsor)

  • McMullen Facades (as kids activities sponsor)

  • MiniSport Ltd and Hopkirk family (for the loan of the replica of the1964 Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini Cooper S driven by Belfast born Paddy Hopkirk)

  • P&O Ferries (for sponsoring the transportation of the 33 EJB replica)

  • MD Rafferty Music School (live music)

“We have so much support from companies and individuals far and wide and too many to individually thank.”

Please click here for more information on the fun day and here to donate to the fundraiser.

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