A YEAR of new beginnings was marked by families as they gathered to thank the medics who made their baby dreams come true.
Dozens of families headed back to the unit at University Hospital of Hartlepool which helped them become parents to celebrate Christmas.
Around 60 babies have been born so far during 2014 thanks to the work of the unit, with more on the way.
The centre is one of the country’s most successful, with bosses crediting its dedicated staff and investment of £750,000 by hospital chiefs for its good results.
Among the group to join the party at the Assisted Reproduction Unit (ARU) was nurse Hayley Carroll, from Hartlepool, who has been helped during the last five years to have son Logan, now three, and Willow, who is seven-months-old.
The 32-year-old, who is married to Stephen, 42, a fabricator, has fundraised for the unit as a thank you for the help it has given the couple, with her support helping to get a counselling service in place.
She said: “They’re so understanding and they’re with you through the tears and the joy.
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have my family and if you can’t give a little bit back, there’s something wrong.
“I have my Christmas presents every single day.
“The team give people their dreams.”
Also there were Leanne and Scott Mills, who welcomed their firstborn Freddie into the world on November 30.
The couple, from King Oswy, underwent three cycles of IVF before their boy was born.
Leanne, 30, a senior care assistant, said: “It’s just amazing.
“I didn’t think it was real when I was pregnant and it didn’t seem real until we got him home.”
Scott, who works for Caterpillar in Peterlee, added: “It was an emotional experience, but the support we got from the unit was unbelievable.
“This is going to be our first family Christmas and extra cosy.
“It’s been great to come down and see everybody and great to catch up with people and talk about our experiences together.”
Sixteen-week-old Max Swinbourne was taken with parents Eve, 37, and Rob, 40, who are both teachers, and his big sister Libby, five.
Eve, from Seaton Carew, said: “You see the consultant and the nurses when you’re having your treatment, but then once you’re pregnant, you have the normal medical treatment.
“We’ve been back to say thank you and give them a card and present, but it’s nice to see them here.
“We know all the nurses really well and it’s just amazing how many babies there are in just one year, it’s really nice to see.”
Tesco, Tick photography firm, KP Foods, The Grand Hotel, The Travellers Rest, The Whitehouse, The Stag and Monkey, JD Sports, Inspiration by Tori, Natural Beauty Salon, The Merry Go Round, Mr Twisters, The Jacksons wharf, Natalie Breeze Cake Creations and patrons of the ARU were among those to give Saturday’s event a boost through support for its raffle.
Hany Mostafa, the unit’s consultant gynaecologist, said: “It’s such an important occasion for us to celebrate the work and positive feelings of the parents and also an inspiration for all of us because it gives us the will and the power to continue our work. “I’m very happy today, to see these couples and families, is our prize for our work.”