Emily’s legacy touches the hearts of a nation

Colin and Liann Weir with children Abigail and  Samuel, named after Dr Samuel Ibhanesebhor the consultant neonatologist who cared for Emily
Colin and Liann Weir with children Abigail and Samuel, named after Dr Samuel Ibhanesebhor the consultant neonatologist who cared for Emily

A Motherwell couple marked what would’ve been their daughter’s 10th birthday — by quietly touching hearts across the nation.

Liann and Colin Weir’s first born Emily, arrived 15 weeks prematurely, on October 6, 2006.

A week into her life, she developed serious complications and, tragically, lost her brave battle on October 17.

Liann and Colin have now marked Emily’s legacy — and paid tribute to the care and support she received in Wishaw General’s neonatal unit — by launching a campaign that brought the best out of all who’ve participated.

Liann said: “Emily’s time was precious and the staff at Wishaw were unbelievable, not only for the care they provided but in the way they supported us day and night.

“Many people were touched by Emily’s journey and we drew massive strength through prayers and kind thoughts of all those who rallied round the family. It was a huge boost and we always felt it was Emily who had generated all that light in a dark time.

“So, on what would’ve been her 10th birthday, we wanted to do something special and bring some joy from something so painful.

“Last October we began our Random Acts of Kindness campaign in Emily’s memory.

“We committed to, and encouraged others on social media, to carry out 10 random acts over 10 months, whether it was helping a neighbour in with their shopping or allowing others to move in front of a queue, just something to brighten up someone’s day without making a show of it.”

The Weirs encouraged participants to donate £1 for each act, hoping to raise £1000 for the neonatal unit.

Five months ahead of schedule and that target has been broken, with £1250 raised, and Emily’s memory has touched people across the nation.

Colin said: “What really struck us is the creativity participants have show, with young and old alike becoming involved far and wide.

“A friend’s daughter, who is only six, wrote kind and unprompted notes to friends and family telling them how much she loved them.

“Another left a pound coin taped to a vending machine for the next person. One person made a pamper box and gave it to a lovely lady who is always helping others.

“We also left a bucket of flowers in Motherwell shopping precinct with a note for passersby to take one.”

Liann added: “It’s the simple things that can light up people’s lives and that’s what this campaign was about. That was, indeed, what Emily’s life was about.

“We are so blessed to have been chosen to be her parents and are hugely grateful to the neonatal unit for all that they did. We only wish she could have stayed with us longer.”

NHS Lanarkshire’s head of Midwifery and Neonatal Lyn Clyde said: “On behalf of all of the team, I’d like to offer my thanks to Liann and Colin for this generous donation, raised through such a thoughtful appeal.

“It’s humbling and inspiring that they have done so much to raise funds and help others.”

The campaign of kindness captured the imagination of people in communities across Lanarkshire.

Liann and Colin have since had a daughter, Abigail (7), and a son, Samuel, who was born in March 2013.

Samuel also spent the first week of his life in Wishaw General’s neonatal unit, and Liann described how ‘incredible’ staff showed huge compassion in a naturally fraught time.

She said: “The consultant neonatologist who cared for Emily, Dr Samuel Ibhanesebhor, came to see us as we were preparing to welcome Samuel into the world and wished us well — we really felt valued and supported.

“What Dr Sam was unaware of was that his kindness and compassion helped us to decide on our son’s name.

“Thankfully Samuel is now a fighting fit three-year-old, but the staff who cared for him were so sensitive to our previous experience and knew how difficult it was coming through the door again would be.

“They made sure we felt supported and went the extra mile to ensure that nothing of our son’s journey reminded us of our daughter’s, even making sure that his incubator wasn’t in the spot where hers had been.”