New mum Clare Harris has pledged to raise money for the neonatal intensive care unit at Royal United Hospital in Bath after her daughter was born weighing less than a bag of sugar.

The first-time mum, who lives on Penn Hill Road, Calne with her partner David Hayes is just grateful that her first-born child is alive and well.

She is keen to raise money for the Forever Friends Appeal after staff at the unit nursed Milly Hayes to full health following a life threatening birth defect.

She said: "The staff at the hospital were fantastic during our traumatic time.

"The first few months of Milly's life were horrendous as it was touch and go.

"The staff reassured us so much but warned us that the first day and then the first week are crucial for a premature baby.

"It was so scary though, you just don't think about having a premature baby. Her first hat was too small to fit a tennis ball and the smallest micro nappies were huge on her.

"We just kept positive, going into auto pilot mode.

"David was excellent. He coped so well and was a great support."

Milly, who was born at 26 weeks weighing 1lb 12oz, had breathing difficulties and a perforated bowel, which is not unusual in premature babies.

She had to be rushed off to St Michael's Hospital in Bristol at just four days old to have an operation on her bowel.

She stayed at the unit in Bristol for a month and then went back to the Royal United Hospital in Bath where her breathing and feeding were monitored for a further two months.

She was on a ventilator when she was first born to help her with her breathing.

Miss Harris said: "The birth came as a total surprise to me as the pregnancy had gone fine. The whole experience was very frightening."

Milly now weighs 8lb 13oz at five and a half months.

The family have now decided to repay their gratitude by raising money for a larger unit.

Miss Harris, 26, her partner Mr Hayes, 27, and her mother Rosie Harris are collecting money in boxes for the unit.

She said: "My mum owns Aladdin's Cave in the town and has put a collection box in the store. It is already full."

Miss Harris also hopes to take part in some fundraising events in the future for the unit's Forever Friends Appeal.

She said: "If it wasn't for the unit and all of the staff I don't think Milly would be here with us now."