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Countdown on to ‘Jack & Bertie’s Car Show Bonanza’ charity event for neonatal unit

The show will take place on Saturday, June 1, at the Palace Demesne in Armagh and there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy

Ian and Bertie (L) and Philip and Jack (R)

The countdown is on to ‘Jack & Bertie’s Car Show Bonanza’ – a charity event organised to raise awareness around neonatal care.

It’s the idea of two Co. Armagh dads, Philip Somerville and Ian Campbell, who were brought together through their own experiences.

Both their sons – Jack & Bertie – were born early, and both spent time in the neonatal units of Craigavon Area Hospital and the Royal Maternity Hospital.

The show will take place on Saturday, June 1, at the Palace Demesne in Armagh and there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy with a huge range of exhibits, including; a static car show of invited exhibitors, paddock displays of motorsport disciplines,  special car displays celebrating 120 years of Rover and 100 years of MG, a trade village, a craft village and kids’ activities.

All proceeds of the event will be going to the neonatal units at both hospitals. A GoFundMe has been launched to get a kickstart on the fundraiser in advance of the event.

The organisers would also like to thank the businesses who have offered their support: Saltmarine Cars as the main sponsor and McMullen Facades as the kids’ activities sponsor.

There’s also MD Rafferty Music School, who will be providing live music.

They’ve also offered a special thanks to MiniSport Ltd and the Hopkirk family for the loan of the replica of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini Cooper S –  driven by Belfast born Paddy Hopkirk – and P&O Ferries, for sponsoring the transportation of the 33 EJB replica.

Paddy Hopkirk & 33 EJB

Speaking to Armagh I last year, Jack’s dad Philip explained: “Jack was born 10 weeks early in October 2021. My wife Sarah gave birth to him in The Royal Jubilee where he was rushed to neonatal and ventilated to make sure his wee lungs could open enough to start breathing.

“After five days, he moved to Craigavon Neonatal Unit where he spent the next 57 days. Here we got to hold and cuddle our son for the first time, with all the leads and tubes attached to his tiny body.”

Philip continued: “Over time he weaned off oxygen and tube feeds and the nurses taught us how to bottle feed him to help him gain weight. And when he gained enough weight we were able to bring him home just in time for Santa.”

Philip says that the nurses in the unit treated him like “he was their own,” and nothing was too much bother.

“The nurses in both hospitals were like family to us. They seen us at our most vulnerable… Sarah and I will forever be grateful for everything the staff at both hospitals did for Jack and us.

“Two years on, Jack hasn’t looked back. He’s a healthy little boy who fought hard to be where he is and is a very determined little man who never turns down the chance to get a hold of the steering wheel and make car noises.”

Philip decided to use his passion for classic cars and rallying as a way to repay the staff for the compassion they received and, after speaking to his friend Ian, who had a similar experience, the idea for the car show was born.

Bertie meanwhile, was born almost four weeks early on February 7 2021. His mum Joanne Campbell gave birth following a difficult pregnancy.

Dad Ian explained: “Due to a very quick birth he was whisked away to neonatal as he required ventilation to help his wee lungs to work for themselves.

“Thankfully he only required 24 hours in the unit before he was transferred to the main maternity ward to be reunited with Joanne.

“Both Bertie and his mummy spent the next five days in hospital as Bertie needed observation and medication before he was fit enough to be discharged home.”

Ian says the pregnancy was “agonising” for the family, as the the many urgent hospital visits during Joanne’s pregnancy were hampered by the ongoing Covid restrictions at the time.

“When I got the call that the baby was on its way, it was so unexpected. I was able to be reunited with my wife again and be by her side for the birth of our son. The greatest feeling I have ever experienced and one I will never forget.”

He added: “The neonatal staff were amazing and weren’t rushing me away, letting me spend as much time as I wanted with my wee son.

“Joanne and I will never forget the care all the staff gave to us all and we will be forever grateful to them.”

Ian says that when Philip approached him about the car show, as a petrol head himself, he couldn’t resist getting involved!

He added: “My love of cars is still as strong as ever and this has certainly been passed on to Bertie, who takes advantage of every opportunity he can to sit behind the wheel of our cars – making the same ‘brum brum’ noises I used to do!”

You can donate to ‘Jack & Bertie’s Car Show Bonanza via GoFundMe. You can also keep track of event updates through the car show Facebook and Instagram pages.

You can grab tickets to the event by visiting their Eventbrite link here.

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