Grieving parents Craig and Jodi Scott have raised thousands of pounds to help the hospital unit which cared for their tiny daughter.
Tilly weighed less than a pound when she was born in July and doctors gave her virtually no chance of survival.
But she clung to life for four weeks, doubling in weight, thanks to the dedication and care of staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital’s neo-natal unit.
“She was born on the 27th of July this year,” said Jodi.
“She was born at 23 weeks, 17 weeks early, and was only 13 ounces.”
Craig added: “They said her chance of survival for the first couple of days was something like one per cent – they were amazed that she survived for four weeks.
“It was a difficult thing to get to grips with. We had to spend four weeks in hospital with her. We only got to hold her once or twice.
“Not being able to take her home was tough – we would see people walking out of the hospital with car seats, ready to go home.”
The couple, of Warden Grove, Gillas Lane, Houghton, were overcome by the support and care they received from staff on the unit: “They were fantastic, absolutely amazing, people doing 12 hours shifts and essential work,” said Jodi, who works at Hill View Primary School.
“We will never be able to pay them back for what they did for us. They went so much further than they needed to look after Tilly.”
“We went in to see them on Christmas Day,” added Craig.
“It is just a normal day for them. It seems a really rewarding job but a very hard job at the same time.
“There were people who went home and would be phoning in to see how Tilly was doing – they really do take their work home with them.”
When Tilly died, the couple wanted to do something to show how grateful they were for the care she had received and set out to raise £10,000 for the neo-natal unit.
“I said I wanted to raise some money for the unit because they did so much for us – £10,000 seemed like a lot of money but we raised it in three or four months,” said IT worker Craig.
“We asked for donations in lieu of flowers at the funeral and got £3,700, which is pretty amazing.”
A charity night, Silly for Tilly, was followed by Chilly for Tilly, which saw the pair, joined by family and friends, take part in the Boxing Day dip at Seaham.
Jodi and Craig say they have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity they have been shown
“We rang Andrew Grey Funeral Directors on the day Tilly died – they took care of everything and then waived the fees,” said Craig.
“The Krystle Kelly Dance School held a charity night, Rainton Meadows gave us tickets to auction off and I don’t think there’s a hairdresser within a 10-mile radius of Houghton that didn’t give us something.
“We go to the Bethany Church in Houghton and there have been loads of donations left after services. People have literally just posted money though the door.
“So far, we have raised £14,000.
“We just want to say a massive thank you to the whole community. We couldn’t go anywhere without people asking about her and then later how we were doing.
“It was overwhelming how many people were asking after us. It is a credit to Houghton how people rallied round.”
Donations can be left at the Bethany Church.