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Hello and welcome to a health-themed Lifeline here at Titanic Belfast,
where I'll be visiting a major conference for people affected by multiple sclerosis.
And we'll be getting a musical accompaniment from a choir
whose singers have all been touched by cancer.
# Sun and moon and stars of light
# Sun and moon and stars of light. #
But first, to the Premature Baby Unit at the Royal for our charity appeal from TinyLife.
Every year more than 2,000 babies are born prematurely in Northern Ireland.
These tiny babies may be small, but they've a huge fight on their hands.
We look after babies right down to 23-24 weeks gestation.
Those babies when they're born, they weigh about 500g.
That's basically half a bag of sugar.
Some of them during the course of their journey
can develop problems which will affect them in the longer term.
And, obviously, we try as much as possible to avoid that,
but clearly in some cases that's not possible.
The reasons for premature birth are sometimes unexplained,
but they're often due to medical conditions affecting the mother.
But the help and support doesn't stop when these infants are allowed to go home.
25 years on from its early origins,
TinyLife has developed a range of family services to meet the baby and parents' needs.
Apart from funding pioneering medical research,
TinyLife offers a hospital-to-home volunteer support programme.
The girls were born at 32 weeks.
And Poppy she weighed 3lb 12oz and Tilly weighed 4lb 3oz.
And for the first three weeks of their life
they were in the neo-natal unit in Craigavon Hospital.
TinyLife, they were fantastic, they were able to supply me with a breast pump.
The hospital was doing all the care for the babies
and I felt I couldn't do anything, but with the help of TinyLife and the breast pump
I could express milk and give them the milk that they needed.
The services are first class. They're there when you need them.
There's help which Kate has now
where she can get her wee bits and pieces done through the day.
I can't always be there, so they're there for you.
TinyLife were able to match the family with a TinyLife volunteer
who visits Catherine and William on a weekly basis,
offering practical and emotional support.
And there's help with therapeutic massage to allow the babies to relax and bond with Mum.
But there's a constant need for volunteers to help with TinyLife's work.
I would definitely recommend it 100%.
It's very, very rewarding.
You get a lot more out of it than what you give.
'To me it's just a few hours of my time every week
'and you get to meet new people. You definitely make a friend.'
He's having a great wee sleep there.
'Each year it costs a half a million pounds to deliver our services to families across Northern Ireland.
'We receive a little bit of money from Government sources,
'but primarily it's through the generosity of the public
'who get involved in many of our fundraising events.'
?10 could buy
a much needed breast pump kit.
?50 could support a volunteer to be
in a home for two hours each week.
And ?100 can deliver a parent-support group in a local community.
This is TinyLife's new sensory room
where babies are introduced to therapies to help their development,
muscle tone, coordination, digestion and sleeping.
Nature's wonderful, she really does get it right most of the time.
Being born too early though is
Being born too early though is tragic,
because there are no other problems,
it's just the baby is born and yet it isn't equipped for survival outside the mother's womb.
But I'm glad to say with the help of the research of many people,
including those associated with Tiny Life over the last 25 years,
this isn't quite the problem that it was those decades ago.
TinyLife's services are offered free of charge to families
who've spent time in neo-natal care,
so the charity relies heavily on the public's support.
If you'd like to donate to TinyLife or volunteer for them,
you'd be making a huge contribution to a baby's future.
And if you'd like to make a donation to TinyLife
you can visit our website and click on the "Donate" button.
Or send a cheque or postal order
made out to TinyLife to:
And if you'd like to find out more information about volunteering for TinyLife,
you can e-mail them at:
Or call the family support team on:
Now here at Titanic Belfast,
I'm at one of the biggest lifestyle conferences for people living with MS.
And I'm joined now by the Chief Executive of the MS Society, Patricia Gordon.
Patricia, tell us a little bit about the disease.
Why is there a greater incidence of it here in Northern Ireland?
We don't really know the exact cause,
but we think it might be down to genetic and environmental factors.
We do know that the further you live away from the equator
the more likely you are to have MS.
And you're spending some ?20 million on research at the moment.
Are we any closer to a cure, do you think?
I think it's some time off before a cure will be available,
but what we're focusing on is increasing the range of treatments that are available for people.
If you have relapsing or remitting MS there are a number of treatments
and at the moment we're hopeful that there will be an additional four drugs available to people.
Thanks, Patricia, for your time today.
Now, I'm also joined by Catherine Doran,
a wonderful example of someone living with MS.
How does it impact on your life, Catherine, and the wider family?
We didn't let it stop us having a family for a start.
We've got two gorgeous daughters and I'm so glad I've done that.
But my family definitely do help out more than perhaps they would for someone of my age group.
My aunt and my mum both help out,
my husband does his fair share around the house, but that's no bad thing either.
And research is moving on at a pace.
Do you feel it's moving quickly enough?
Are you hopeful for new treatments or even a cure?
The research is fantastic.
In the four years I've been diagnosed it's moved so quickly.
I would like to think that in my lifetime there'll be a cure.
And I will always hope that's the case with research money there.
There's fantastic work being done. I do believe that will happen.
Thanks so much, Catherine, for joining us.
Now, from a very busy Titanic Quarter
let's take a look at our Community Noticeboard.
And it's devoted today to the Sing for Life Choir,
which is celebrating its first birthday.
Made up of people affected by cancer
the search is on for anyone who might like to join them.
# For the beauty of each hour
# Of the day and of the night
# Hill and vale and tree and flower Hill and vale and tree and flower
# Sun and moon and stars of light
# Sun and moon and stars of light
# Lord of all... #
Some of the people in the choir
are telling me it's improved their quality of life.
One gentleman said he was a recluse
and this has given him a whole new sense of living again.
It's very friendly and you don't have to talk about yourself
in detail if you don't want to,
but people are free to talk about themselves.
And it's just nice to be able to share if you want
or just be around people.
I have six-monthly scans
and when I get my six-monthly scan and find that it's all clear,
I tell people and everybody's really pleased for you.
It's a great sort of experience. It really is good.
To find out more about joining the choir contact:
# This our joyful hymn of praise. #
Wow! Inspirational stuff.
And you can, of course, hear more from the choir on our website.
But for now that's it. Thanks for watching. Take care. Bye-bye.
An appeal for volunteers and donations by the premature baby charity, Tiny Life. And there's a special performance by the inspirational 'Sing for Life' choir whose members have been affected by cancer.
Donations by crossed cheque or postal order to:
The Appeals Organiser c/o The Appeals Office BBC Broadcasting House Ormeau Avenue Belfast BT2 8HQ
Or donate online via www.bbc.co.uk/niappeals
Charity registration number is XR 75792/1.