Work will start in October on a new neotnatal intensive care unit at the Royal United Hospital in Bath thanks to a £3.1 million grant from the NHS.

The Gazette has been supporting the Forever Friends Appeal’s Space To Grow campaign since it was launched two years ago.

The £3.1 million grant will enable a new larger sustainable neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital to be built years ahead of schedule.

The Forever Friends Appeal says it now has to raise just another £1.5 million to reach its £6.1 million target. NICU matron Debbie Grant said: "Coping with very sick new-borns requires focus, we are dealing with parents who are deeply traumatised, and more space for them will make a huge difference to our ability to offer them the dignity and privacy they deserve.

"Lack of space for everything is a big issue, be it for medical or emotional support."

Chairman of The Forever Friends Appeal, John Cullum, father of jazz singer Jamie, said: “We are delighted and very excited at the news of additional NHS funding as it will now very much match the fundraising efforts of the local public and other donors to the campaign. "

While the appeal is waiting for the planning application to be granted during the summer it is looking to push fundraising efforts to ensure all the funds are in place so that the building can be opened by early 2011.

The new unit will be one-and-a -half times the size of the current one and will accompany the existing building that will be turned into staff headquarters and four ensuite family rooms. Although the new unit will accommodate the same number of babies, up to 21, each of the rooms the babies are kept in will increase in size, to allow parents to have enough personal space with the vulnerable newborns.

Psychologists have said the benefits of a larger, more holistic environment are endless, with babies expected to have better health later in life due to their calm surroundings.

To donate money to the appeal call (01225) 825 691 or e-mail for