On Saturday September 28, Linda Broomfield of Poole-based accountancy firm Mazars, will take to the sea with one of her daughters, Sophie, to swim 1,500m (one mile) in under one hour.

The duo will be taking part in the Poole Open Water Swim, whatever the weather! They’ll be raising money for ‘First Touch’ a charity very close to their hearts.

‘First Touch’ supports the neonatal unit at St.George’s Hospital, Tooting. This hospital is where Linda’s granddaughter, baby Emmeline, spent the first four and a half months of her life.

Emmeline was born at 28 weeks and two days, weighing just 450g – not quite one pound. Linda and her family knew that Emmeline was going to be born early, but nothing could prepare them for quite how small, tiny and delicate she was. Her skin was too fragile to touch and her eyes were still fused shut.

Over the next few weeks there were some good days when Emmeline’s mum Clare could have gentle cuddles with her, but as every baby is different, the doctors couldn’t really say what was going to happen. All the family could do for the most part was sit and watch little Emmeline through the incubator.

Slowly she started to gain weight and her breathing improved. However, at nine weeks old and weighing just two pounds, Emmeline contracted a bowel disease called NEC. She became gravely ill very quickly and the family didn’t know whether she would make it through the night. Antibiotics didn’t work and Emmeline needed a lifesaving operation. Thankfully this was a success and was the boost she needed to move forward.

After another 11 weeks she was allowed to come home on an oxygen machine. Emmeline is now thriving and has a very forceful personality.

Linda Broomfield, tax manager at Mazars Poole, said: “I vowed when Emmeline was born that I would do something to raise money to support ‘First Touch’ and the wonderful unit at St.George’s which helps save the lives of many tiny babies each year. Sadly, we were told that what happened to Emmeline is not uncommon in premature babies – they have to fight from day one.

“As a family we will be forever grateful to the amazing nurses, doctors, surgeons, and Bobbie and Lyndsey at the neonatal unit in St.George’s Hospital. Without all of these people, Emmeline would not be here today.

“The Poole Open Water Swim is our way of giving something back to ‘First Touch’. Any contribution, however small, will be gratefully received.”

You can view Linda and Sophie’s Just Giving page here: www.justgiving.com/Sophie-and-Linda

About First Touch – ‘First Touch’ fund medical equipment family welfare schemes and specialist nurse training at the neonatal unit in St George’s Hospital, Tooting. All donations to this wonderful charity help this fabulous unit, its babies, families and its nursing staff and are hugely appreciated.