A devoted grandma and local customer service worker has led a work-based fundraiser to raise over £2,000 in support of cause close to her heart.

Lesley Colley, who works at EDF Energy at Doxford International Business Park, saw her daughter Victoria and son-in-law Liam welcome two premature babies in 2011, who were treated by neonatal staff at the University Hospital of North Durham. Lesley has since praised the staff at the hospital for the survival and development of her two grandchildren, and vowed to help support the department.

Baby James was born 8 weeks early on Valentine’s Day 2014 at just 4lbs. Later that year, the family saw the arrival of Emily, who was born 12 weeks early weighing only 2lb 4oz. Emily suffered a range of complications due to her premature birth, including a hole in the heart and spent months recovering in hospital. Her final treatment was given at Durham Neonatal Unit before going home.

With the backing of her Customer Relationship Manager Hayley Lackenby, Lesley and her manager Sharon Tilley set up the Brave Baby Fund, which included workplace fundraising through a tuck shop and a series of quizzes that helped raise £2,015.46 to go towards life changing equipment and supplies for the distressed parents of premature babies.

Lesley, who is 50, said: “It was the miraculous support of the staff from the neonatal unit that helped both children through a very traumatic start to their lives.

“Without the expertise of the doctors, nurses and support staff through this distressing time we may not have seen our grandchildren make it home to begin their lives with their Mum and Dad.

“It was a very scary time for the family, and throughout it all the staff were amazing. We can’t thank the very special people who work at the hospital enough, however we hope that the donation shows our appreciation and can help other families.

“It is also fantastic to have such great support from my managers and colleagues at EDF Energy, who I wouldn’t have been able to raise the funds without, so I would also like to say a big thank you to everyone who donated.”

The money is now set to go towards incubator covers to reduce the light and noise babies are exposed to, which is known to help brain development in premature infants. The nurses also plan to purchase developmental positional aids, which help to nurse babies in a comfortable position, reducing stress levels and helping with painful procedures.

Leanne Lawton, sister at the hospital said: “This generous donation will enable us to get more of the vital equipment we need for the care of premature babies.  There can be a lot of complications with premature babies and it can be a very distressing time for the family, so anything that helps make this time easier is really appreciated.

“It also means a lot to us to know that the work we put in and the way we conduct ourselves with families makes a difference, and that people are really appreciative of what we do.”