NEONATAL babies at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital can now benefit from a huge library.

Parents Matt Taylor and Claire Andrews launched the project for the Winchester hospital to support future neonatal babies following the birth of their daughter Poppy.

Poppy was born in February last year via emergency caesarean, suffering from severe brain damage following pregnancy complications.

During the family’s weeks in neonatal care, Matt and Claire, from Winchester, were encouraged to read to Poppy as much as possible to stimulate brain development and promote recovery.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Matt, Claire and PoppyMatt, Claire and Poppy (Image: Hampshire Hospitals Charity)

The pair have now opened ‘Poppy’s Library’ inside the unit, a collection of around 100 children’s stories mounted across two wall racks for families to use.

Matt said: "We found that reading to Poppy helped us to form a bond with her and gave us a proactive role to play in her recovery, as well as a sense of normality in this overwhelming situation. Not only did the reading help with Poppy's development, but we found it really hopeful to have something to focus on rather than ruminating on the uncertainty.”

Claire said: “We felt that creating a library on the neonatal unit would be a great way of giving something back, as well as providing other parents with a selection of books to read to their little ones. We hope that it gives them the same sense of calm and purpose that we had when reading to Poppy."

When parents read a book from ‘Poppy’s Library’ they are encouraged to record their baby’s name inside the cover to help families feel connected as a form of reassurance.

Hampshire Chronicle: New born PoppyNew born Poppy (Image: Hampshire Hospitals Charity)

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Raewyn Twaddle, clinical matron of Winchester’s neonatal service at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Reading to neonates is incredibly important for so many reasons – not only does it improve their neurodevelopment but it also helps to strengthen the bond between parent and baby through voice.

“We are incredibly grateful that Claire and Matt have donated this amazing library through our charity and know that it will help to support many families here with us in the future.”

To build the library, Matt and Claire donated funds to Hampshire Hospitals Charity who were able to purchase the books as well as receive contributions from a local nursery.

For more information on the charity or to donate go to