Best Beginnings was delighted to hold a Small Wonders Champions Event in Manchester last week. This was the third of four events funded by the Department of Health held across England to support the effective use of Small Wonders antenatally (where appropriate), on the neonatal unit, during discharge planning and in the first months at home. 

To book your place on the last 2014 Small Wonders Champion Day happening in London on Oct 29th click here. To find out about the recent Manchester day read on.

Manchester proved to be a fantastic location for a Small Wonders event, as over 60 delegates travelled from all over the north of England to take part in the day. This was an action packed, informative and practical day with nine fantastic speakers sharing their professional and personal experiences of Small Wonders and how it can be used to drive change to Family Centred Care. Click here to see the programme of events.

Myself and Vicky Carne, Professional & Policy Lead and Interim Small Wonders National Facilitator kicked off the morning, welcoming delegates, setting the scene and providing an overview of Best Beginnings.


We were thrilled to have not only Small Wonders Champions from the North of England attend this event, but also presenting about their journey with Small Wonders.  Dr Liz McKechnie, Consultant Neonatologist & Kathy Dewhurst, Infant Feeding Midwife from Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust did a fantastic double act as they shared how Family-Centred Care was awakened in their Trust. Emilie MacCormack spoke from the heart about her own experiences as a mother of two babies born very prematurely and called for all neonatal units to ‘gift’ the DVD to parents. We were also delighted that Ben Wills-Eve himself born very prematurely at 23 weeks, almost 24 years ago, spoke from a very different and thought-provoking perspective. Christine Niccolls from Liverpool Women’s also encouraged participants out of their seats in a story-telling scenario that showed the powerful impact of touch, skin-to-skin and breast milk on babies’ neural development.


Feedback from the day has been very positive:


“All speakers inspirational, especially parent and ex-preemie, allowing you to experience the other side”


“Wonderful day, we feel motivated to get in there and promote your wonderful DVD. Thank you from City NNU Birmingham”


“Fantastic event. Gained much insight into how effective Small Wonders is. I feel I have gained a lot of knowledge on how to implement the programme more effectively on the unit”


“I’ve made some great, really important contacts. Brilliant”


“Feeling energised and motivated to strive for improvements for women, parents, families, babies and children, and the wider family. Would recommend to colleagues to attend future events”.




Cathy Dewhurst

 Liz McKechnie

This was followed by Christine Niccolls, Lead Nurse for Small Wonders in Liverpool Women’s Hospital who presented on the creative approaches they have developed on embedding Small Wonders.

Christine Niccolls

Christine facilitated an incredible interactive learning session using purple and white wool to demonstrate the positive and negative experiences of the early life of a premature baby. Christine shared a story from a premature baby’s view point and engaged with delegates to pass a purple piece of wool around each time a positive word was said. White wool was used for each negative word.  


 Many thanks to Christine Niccolls for allowing Best Beginnings to use this story.


Best Beginnings is passionate about collaboration and working with other charities to drive change and give every baby born in the UK the best start in life. Eileen Irvin from Bliss spoke to delegates about the Bliss Family Accreditation Scheme, audit tool and their synergy with Small Wonders.  

Eileen Irvin

The Small Wonders DVD and Change Programme was developed to help parents to be at the heart of their baby’s care. We are passionate about engaging, empowering and supporting parents throughout their journey of having a baby born sick or premature.
Emile MacCormack is a young mum to two babies born prematurely who travelled all the way from Lincoln to take part in this Small Wonders event. Emilie is passionate about parenting, prematurity and Small Wonders. Click here to read Emilie’s blog.  


We are so proud to have Emilie in the Best Beginnings family.


 Ben Wills

Ben Wills was a most welcome addition to the Champions Event programme. Having been born at 23 weeks gestation nearly 24 years ago, he shared his and his family’s experience of prematurity. Ben campaigns for Bliss to help premature babies and just like Emilie we are thrilled to welcome him to the Best Beginnings family.


Rosanna Hunt

Small Wonders Champions are agents for change across neonatal units in England. Rosanna Hunt from NHS Improving Quality discussed how to create and sustain energy for change.



The wonderful Gillian Weaver from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust shared the Neonatal Feeding Checklist and discussed how to integrate it with the Small Wonders Programme.

Gillian Weaver

Gillian and her colleagues developed this tool to promote lactation and breastfeeding for babies and mothers on the neonatal unit. Best Beginnings are  incredibly grateful to the staff of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Division of Neonatology for allowing us to share the Checklist with champions. See Resources for Champions for more information.  


The third Small Wonders Champions Event was a resounding success. Huge thanks to the  speakers and delegates who took the time to attend. W we hope you found it as inspiring as we did.


One last date for your diary

If you would like to attend the FINAL Small Wonders Champions event in London on the 29th October please see here. This is the final Small Wonders event for 2014, so book your place now