Stuart Broad makes heartfelt pledge to Nottingham Children's Hospital and the medics he owes his life to

Nottinghamshire and England cricketing legend Stuart Broad, who was born almost nine weeks prematurely 38 years ago today, is set to become an official ambassador for Nottingham Hospitals Charity's Big Appeal, which aims to raise £1.5 million over the next three years for Nottingham Children's Hospital. Stuart says he owes his life to the Neonatal Unit at the hospital.

The Big Appeal, launched in September 2023, aims to raise funds for three key areas of Nottingham Children’s Hospital, including the new Neonatal Unit currently being built at the Queen’s Medical Centre – which is a cause extremely close to Stuart’s and his mum Carole’s hearts. Carole is also set to become an ambassador alongside side her son.

Stuart, who is regarded as one of England's greatest Test bowlers, said: “The Big Appeal is really important to me. I was born at 31-and-a-half weeks, weighing 2.2 pounds. My dad (England cricketer Chris Broad) said that when he held his hand out, my whole body fitted inside his hand. I was kept alive by the Neonatal Unit in Nottingham, so I obviously owe a huge amount – I owe my life to them.

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“I’m here now, at six foot six, 38 years old today, and I’ve been able to achieve a huge amount of goals. Without the care I received in the first ten weeks of my life, that certainly wouldn’t have been possible."

Stuart was saved by a doctor called John, after whom he was given the middle name hence Stuart Christopher John Broad.

Every year, more than 1,000 premature and seriously ill babies from across the East Midlands and beyond are treated at Nottingham's Neonatal Units. With building work well underway on the new unit at the Queen’s Medical Centre, that number is set to double.

The hospital’s neonatal staff already provide the best possible medical care, and the NHS will fund the essentials of the new unit. But fundraising through the Big Appeal will help to provide the added extras that can help bring comfort and stability to families at a time when their world has been turned upside down.

Stuart as a young cricketer - dressed in whites and wielding a bat
Stuart as a young cricketer -Credit:Nottingham Hospitals

Stuart said: “My mum said the hardest thing she ever had to do was drive away from the hospital, without her newborn. As a parent myself now, I just couldn’t imagine driving away from the hospital without my daughter, Annabella, with us.

"The scale of this new unit, the plans and the technology, is all incredible. Obviously, the baby is the number one priority, but also the care for the baby’s family has been taken into account. The most stressful thing you can possibly go through is having your newborn be ill, and need intensive care. So to have a new building, where the mindset of the parents is taken care of as well, is unbelievable.

Mum Carole added: "There’s no doubt that, without the care and support we had all those years ago, Stuart wouldn’t be here today.

“Walking through the door and seeing the new unit, I just felt that if my child needed care, this is where I’d want to be. The Big Appeal should really be called the Huge Appeal – because that’s the difference it will make to everybody who comes through that door."

Many families spend weeks or even months on the Neonatal Unit, often unexpectedly, with little or no time to mentally or physically prepare. They are away from the familiarity of home, often with other children to care for, and are thrown into an unfamiliar world revolving around their baby’s bedside.

Stuart and his mum, left, visit the construction site of the new neonatal unit at QMC
Stuart and his mum, left, visit the construction site of the new neonatal unit at QMC -Credit:Nottingham Hospitals

The Big Appeal aims to provide some comfort and relief for these families during this challenging time. Donation to the Big Appeal will help provide, among other things:

  • A dedicated ultrasound machine for the new Neonatal Unit. Currently, babies who need an ultrasound scan have to be taken to the radiology department for their scans – which can be challenging when they are hooked up to vital equipment. Donations will help provide a dedicated ultrasound machine, which will stay on the new unit – meaning babies will no longer need to be moved to receive their scans.

  • A welcoming entrance and colourful bays. Donations will help make the entrance and the bays on the new Neonatal Unit as welcoming as possible for parents and families, including young siblings who might be frightened at the prospect of visiting their baby brother or sister on a hospital ward. Donations will help fund woodland themed artwork to help young siblings feel less scared, and colourful flooring to mark out each cot space, helping each family feel the space next to the baby is theirs.

  • Homely additions to the unit’s overnight rooms. These rooms will be used by parents of the most critically ill babies, so they can stay close by their child, but also have the space to step away from the medical environment and into a safe haven for some respite. Donations will help fund home comforts like comfortable furniture, calming artwork, and even televisions to offer stressed and worried parents some familiarity during their time on the unit.

  • Extra additions to the family room. This room will be a space where families can go to sit down for a few moments, make a drink, and meet other parents on the unit going through a similar experience. Donations will help make this room as comfortable and welcoming as possible, by providing homely seating and cooking facilities, as well as toys and games to keep young siblings entertained, making it easier for parents with other children to have their family all together at their baby’s bedside.

Nigel Gregory, chief executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Stuart and Carole as ambassadors for the Big Appeal, especially as it is a cause so close to both their hearts. After starting his life as a premature baby, Stuart has gone on to become a local and national sporting hero – it just goes to show what the tiny babies being cared for in our Neonatal Unit can go on to achieve.

"We’re extremely proud to have Stuart and Carole on board, and have been inspired by their stories of their time on the Neonatal Unit when Stuart was born. I hope the people of Nottinghamshire and beyond will all join the Broad family in supporting the Big Appeal, and helping other babies like Stuart get the best possible start in life.”

Stuart as a tiny baby - lying in a cot
Stuart as a tiny baby lying in a cot -Credit:Nottingham Hospitals

Don Sharkey, professor of neonatal medicine at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “We’re so grateful to Stuart and Carole for supporting this important appeal.

“The money donated through the Big Appeal will help fund specialist equipment for the new Neonatal Unit, allowing us to provide the best possible care for patients – as well as enabling us to create a more calming and welcoming environment for parents and wider families during what can be a very difficult and distressing time."

Right-arm seam bowler and left-handed batsman, Stuart Broad was educated at Oakham School in Rutland and was on track to go to Durham University when he was offered a contract by Leicestershire County Cricket Club. He returned home to play for Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club in 2007. His international career flourished after he played for England under-19 squad in 2005. In the fourth Test of the 2023 Ashes series, he reached the 600 wicket milestone. At the end of the third day of the fifth Test in the same series, he announced his retirement from all formats and all levels of cricket after the series.

Anyone wishing to make a donation, or see Stuart and Carole on a video, can do so by clicking here

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