Back our blanket appeal and help premature babies like Harper and Poppy this Christmas

JADE Ditchfield will be celebrating her own Christmas miracle – having her two little girls home for the ­festivities.

Last December, twins Harper and Poppy were in incubators fighting for their lives after being born 16 weeks early.

Today Jade, 30, told The Sun on ­Sunday: “There were days when I was terrified that they wouldn’t make it.

"I always knew the next day was not a given. But I couldn’t give up on them. I was adamant I had to fight for them.

“They have been through things that most adults couldn’t even contemplate. 

"They were in hospital for 133 days before we could bring them home and then they were still hooked up to oxygen fighting for every breath.

“This Christmas I am going all out. I am normally a bit of a Scrooge but it’s going to be magical — they deserve it.”

The twins were due on March 26.

But Jade was rushed to Sheffield Teaching Hospital and at 3pm on December 5, surrounded by 16 medics on The Jessop Wing, she gave birth to Harper, weighing 1lb 3oz.

Poppy then arrived 11 hours later, coming in at 1lb 2oz.  They were both put on ventilators.

Jade and her partner Richard Thompson, a support worker, spent weeks on busy neonatal wards yet Jade, from Halifax, said she often felt lonely.

She explained: “You feel so isolated from the world.  You feel guilty if you put your feet up and leave your little babies on their own for a few ­minutes.

"There are very few people who can truly understand how strange it is being in a premature baby ward.

“You are constantly overwhelmed by joy, sadness, grief or fear. It can make you or break you. 

“I was so lucky to have Ricky there by my side. It would have been so much harder without him.”

That is why, today, Jade is backing the Sun on Sunday’s Knit A Lot, Help A Tot appeal so YOU, our kindhearted readers, can help hundreds of parents and newborns — just like Jade and her daughters — around the UK.

How to make your blanket

Pattern for 24in x 30in baby blanket

YOU NEED: 250grams double knit yarn and 4mm needles (size 8). Cast on 128 stitches and knit 17 rows.

At the beginning and end of next and each following pattern rows you will knit 9 stitches for border to prevent curling up.

1st row: knit 9 (knit 10, purl 10) repeat to last 9 sts, knit.

2nd row: knit 9 (purl 10, knit 10) repeat to last 19 sts, purl 10, knit 9.
Repeat these rows 6 times.

15th row as 2nd row.

16th row as 1st row.

Repeat 15th and 16th rows 6 times to form the pattern (28 rows).

Repeat the above 28 rows of the pattern a further 6 times, the blanket should now measure approximately 28in.

Knit 17 rows then cast off.

A baby’s first Christmas should be a magical family time.

But every year thousands of the smallest and most vulnerable children will spend their first one in hospital.

For their families, it can be an overwhelming and worrying time.


That is why this year The Sun on Sunday is partnering with Bliss, the leading UK charity dedicated to babies born prematurely or sick, to sprinkle some Christmas cheer.

And we have teamed up with East London Textiles Ltd and The Big Yellow Self Storage Company to help store your blankets.

One in seven UK babies is born needing neonatal care and the figure is rising. Up to 8,000 will spend their first Christmas in neonatal units this year.

We are asking YOU to knit a blanket for these brave babies as their first Christmas present and we will take these special gifts to them in hospitals throughout the UK.

Where to send your finished blankets

PLEASE post blankets to: The Sun on Sunday’s Christmas Blankets for Babies Appeal, East London Textiles Ltd (E.L.T.), Unit G4, Gallmans End Farm, Manor Road, Abridge, Essex RM4 1NA.

Bliss is unable to accept blankets sent directly to its office.

All blankets will be quality controlled. We will only be sending out blankets to units in line with their infection control policies and at such time as access to units is possible.

You can also make a donation at

 Tell us how you are helping the campaign with this hashtag: #SoSBlankets4Babies

The blankets will keep premature tots warm, carry the important bonding scent between parent and child and will also be a treasured memento.

Jade said: “I think your campaign is wonderful.

“These blankets will be a special, comforting lifeline between a parent and their baby.”

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

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