CITY Hall has turned purple to recognise the hundreds of babies born too soon in Bradford.

On Friday staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit (NNU) who care for around 500 babies every year were also marking the day with all things purple to raise awareness of babies born early needing special care.

Guests invited along to the unit on the day included the Lord Mayor of Bradford Abid Hussain and Gemma Collins-Ellis, an ambassador for UK premature and sick baby charity BLISS.

The awareness day also saw the start of the unit’s new rucksack welcome packs given to all mums arriving at NNU.

The rucksacks contain hats, blankets and nappies for the babies encouraging parents to get involved with their babies as soon as possible. They also have basic items for mums like toiletries.

Senior Neonatal Sister, Suzi Minchella said: “Often mums don’t have time to plan or get organised when babies are brought into the neonatal unit so these items can help.

“The welcome packs also help to bring a sense of normality to surroundings which at first can seem very daunting.”

Families past and present were also been invited to take part in the day.

Sister Minchella added: “It’s lovely to see past families coming back with their babies and young children who are now thriving.

“It’s also really helpful for families of the babies who are on the unit at present to meet them as it gives them hope and encouragement on what can sometimes be a long journey before they can take their babies home.”

Bradford’s neonatal unit cares for around 500 babies each year from around the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Last year the unit was one of the first in the UK to use an innovative video-link bringing parents and their tiny new tots together - even when they are apart.

An innovation called BabyView means parents are able to see their baby on a PC screen, an iPad or tablet and even on a smartphone, just by linking to the web address on their internet browser or by downloading an app which helps take away some worry and anxiety.

While an estimated 15 million babies around the world are born prematurely each year. One million of them do not survive their early birth.

Bradford Hospital’s Charity helped the unit organise events and bring in donations from around the district.

A wishlist of toys and equipment including cot mobiles, soothers, books and babygrows as well as sensory lights has been put together on Amazon to help the unit give a homely feel for parents and babies. It can be found at

A wish tree for parents to hang handmade tags, recording their hopes and wishes for their babies and the unit is also being planned.

Money raised by the Awareness Day will be split equally between the Trust’s Children’s Charity (Neonatal Trust Fund) and BLISS.