Pop and Grow’s Paula Smith, left, with Michelle Churches, who are doing a sponsored sky dive. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
IT started with a brainwave and went on to be a worldwide success.
As Pop N Grow celebrates its first anniversary, the co-founders of the specially adapted baby suits for babies on neo-natal intensive care units (NICU) say they never imagined their idea would grow so big and so fast, with requests coming in from all over the world.
Paula Smith, 26, of Adelaide Grove, East Cowes, had the brainwave when her daughter, Amelia, spent time in the NICU at St Mary’s Hospital, after she was born with low blood sugar levels.
Amelia could not wear a conventional baby suit because she had tubes and an arm cannula attached to her body, which got Paula thinking.
She went to her friend, Alison Wright, who runs Rosie Boo’s Nappies, an online, custom-made nappy provider, and between them they created a converted baby suit, which has bigger sleeves and poppers along the shoulders.
Paula, a mum-of-two, said: "In under 12 months, we have supplied just over 1,000 of our unique baby grows and about 500 of our TLC parent packs to those who find themselves in special care without being prepared.
"The most rewarding part is I can tell Amelia when she grows up that even though she was so poorly, something good came out of it."
The suits, which work around wires, tubes and lines, were only ever meant for St Mary’s as a thank-you but the charity now supplies them free of charge to some of the country’s biggest NICUs, including Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals, London, and around the world.
The charity also supplies converted clothing for older children who have a range of medical needs from full skull reconstructions, cancer treatments, organ transplants and full open-heart surgery.
All the conversions are carried out by Alison while Paula deals with the day-to-day workings of the charity.
They are supported by a team of dedicated 'workers’, who help make the charity the success it is. The whole team works for no payment.
To celebrate the first anniversary and Amelia’s first birthday, a big birthday bash has been organised for October 7 at Rookley Country Park and there is a Pop N Grow charity skydive later this month, when 14 people will be jumping from 12,000 feet.
• Wightlink has provided free transport across The Solent but the team desperately needs a coach to take them to Salisbury. Anyone who can help can contact Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org