29 October 2013

Andy Potkins, 39, his wife Jenny, 31, and 5-year-old daughter Daisy hope to raise more than £1,000 in memory of little Jack for the Harebell Suite, a dedicated area in the Maternity Unit that is used by bereaved parents as a private, special room to grieve. As well as the indoor space there is a small garden called the Quadrant which allows parents the chance to get some fresh air and space to reflect.

The Dukinfield couple is hosting Jack’s Jingle Ball, a New Year’s Eve extravaganza for around 130 friends and family at San Rocco in Stamford Square, Ashton, featuring raffles, a DJ, competitions, games and buffet to herald in a new year.

They have approached local businesses for raffle prizes and have been offered items including family passes for Legoland and the SeaLife Centre at the Trafford Centre, a tour around Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, a free MOT, a digital camera, Sony Media streamer, Dyson vacuum cleaner and Free Swim passes from Tameside Sports Trust.

Andy, who works for an electrical retailer, said: “A few months down the line we decided we wanted to do something in Jack’s memory. We have coped really well with support from our family and friends and organising the ball has given us something to focus on.”

In May the couple were given the heartbreaking news that there was a problem with Jenny’s pregnancy after her 20 week anomaly scan indicated Jack was showing signs of a neural tube defect with excess fluid in the brain. Further specialist tests revealed that he had the spinal defect myelomeningocoele, the most severe form of Spina Bifida with hydrocephalus and Arnold Chiari Malformation.

The Harebell Suite was made available and on 1 June, at 8.37am, Jack James Glyn Potkins was born asleep weighing just 345g.

Andy said: “It was a terrible time but the Harebell Suite was a safe, comforting environment. As we were there a long time it was nice that there was somewhere to go outside. It wasn’t a clinical room so we could just try to relax as best we could under the circumstances.

“The midwives that looked after us were absolutely amazing. Once Jack had been born we were allowed to see him and we were able to spend time with him to say goodbye properly for as long as we wanted. It was good that we had our own space where friends and family could come to visit us.”

If anyone would like to support Jack’s Jingle Ball visit