THE One in Eleven appeal to create a new neonatal unit at Leighton Hospital has reached its £1.8m target.

Following 12 months of tireless campaigning by the Crewe and South Cheshire community, reached its target a year earlier than expected.

Tracy Bullock, chief executive of Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce that we have raised the funds we need for this fantastic project.

“We would like to thank every single person that has helped us achieve this. You have all played a part in providing this wonderful facility that will serve families in Mid Cheshire for many years to come.”

The unit will provide more space and comfort for families in Crewe and the surrounding areas going through the heartache of having their baby in hospital.

Launched in early 2012 and supported by The Guardian, the One in Eleven Appeal quickly gained a huge number of dedicated local supporters - from families whose children have been cared for on the neonatal unit to local fundraisers and businesses.

The Appeal took a big leap forward in October when it received a donation of £1.5m from The Frank Hockenhull Trust, taking funds to a short distance from the final target.

The donation meant work on the facility was brought forward, while local supporters stepped up to the challenge of a last fundraising push.

The One in Eleven appeal is the first major fundraising appeal of the Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity (MCHC) since it was re-launched in 2012.

After the appeal’s success, the charity will continue to support other areas of the hospital.

Laura Bailey, Fundraising Manager for MCHC, said: “We could never have imagined when we began this appeal the overwhelming response we would get and the tremendous generosity people have shown.

“Even though we have reached our target, the hard work won’t stop. The appeal will fund the physical renovation works to the building, but the neonatal unit will still need the support of its local community and we hope that people will keep it in their hearts and minds long after the appeal.”

Around 3,000 babies are born every year at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and approximately one in eleven need additional support - ranging from a few hours of special care to a few weeks in an intensive care unit.

Leighton’s new unit will be roughly double current capacity, and will be housed in an existing space adjacent to the recently refurbished labour ward, creating a first-class facility for babies from birth and beyond.

The re-development includes an enhanced design and layout to help modernize the delivery of neonatal services.

Lynn Pessol, ward manager for the neonatal unit, said: “All staff are excited to see our new unit take shape.

“We have always been fortunate to have the support of our local community. Our new unit is not the end of the story and we hope this vital support will continue in the future.”