Press release from North East Ambulance Service

Triplets born thirteen weeks early were reunited with their family in Middlesbrough for Christmas and New Year thanks to a national charity and two North of England ambulance services.

Born on the 15th November at Arrowe Park hospital in Liverpool, Poppy, Lily and Hollie were waiting for the perfect time to come home to their parent’s native North East, where they could be closer to their family and elder sisters, Charlotte, aged 12 and Lucie, aged 6.

And thanks to support from charity Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, North East Ambulance and North West Ambulance Service, the three were each transported individually, via road and then air, to James Cook Hospital, in time to celebrate Christmas and to start the New Year.   

Mum Rachel and dad Paul, from Billingham, were taken by surprise in November when Rachel’s waters broke early. Due to the multiple births and their need for three neo-natal beds together, they were originally transferred to Liverpool where there was space. Since then, Rachel has been waiting for it to be safe and possible for them all to return home.

She said: “I was transferred from James Cook to Middlesbrough by ambulance on the Sunday morning because they hoped that there they could guarantee there would be three neo-natal beds for the girls so that they could be together. 

“Paul and my mum followed me down and stayed with me for a couple of hours before heading home.  I went into labour on the Monday night and Paul had hoped to get back for the birth but I had to have an emergency C-section early Tuesday morning and he wasn’t able to get there in time. 

“They weighed between one pound nine and two pounds each; they were tiny and luckily, thanks to the Ronald McDonald house at Arrowe Park, I’ve been able to stay down there with them until Poppy and Lily were brought home on the 21st, followed by Hollie on the 23rd.  But it’s been hard being away from my elder girls, especially in the run up to Christmas.”

Charity Lucy Air Ambulance for Children offered to provide the transfer of the babies, with a medical team, from Chester air field to Durham Tees Valley, but they needed support from North East and North West Ambulance Services at either side of the flight to take them from and to hospital.

Duty Manager at North East Ambulance Service, Ailsa Rutter and her ambulance dispatch colleagues were dedicated to getting the three home in time for the big day.

Ailsa said: “Christmas is a time for families and we could only imagine how worrying it might be for this family at the time. The logistics of so many journeys from the hospital in Liverpool to the airfield in Chester and then from the receiving air field in Durham to the hospital in Middlesbrough was challenging, but together we were all determined to make it as safe and smooth an experience as possible for the triplets and their family and it’s lovely to hear they are all back together and doing well.”

Nicola Cleave, Medical and Family Liaison Manager for Lucy Air Ambulance Service, said: “I love doing this - it's such a special part of my job at Lucy Air Ambulance. It was lovely getting to know Rachael and an absolute pleasure to work with everyone involved (North East Ambulance Service, North West Ambulance Service and Capital Air) to coordinate the transfer of these babies and bring them home for Christmas.”

Rachel continued:

Flight staff Dominic and Rache were amazing support, as was everyone involved. It’s been unbelievable. I couldn’t let myself think about them coming home until now but finally it feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and they might be allowed home around their due date.  It’s been fantastic to be together on Christmas morning in the hospital - the girls can squeeze their elder sisters’ fingers now – they’d only gotten to see each other a couple of times since their birth.  They do everything in unison; they’re little live wires already and won’t lie still! I can’t wait for the madness to start when we get them home!

 I can’t thank everyone enough for helping us.