STAFF at Furness General Hospital have been celebrating the first anniversary of the South Lakes Birth Centre opening.

Staff and patients were transferred from the hospital’s previous maternity unit into the £12million state-of-the-art birth centre in early 2018, with the official opening taking place on 14 February after just 15 months of building work.

To mark the special occasion families of some of the first babies born at the centre were invited to an extra special birthday party complete with cake and decorations.

Gail Nesbitt, South Lakes Birth Centre Ward Manager, said: “It’s a real pleasure to be able to welcome back some of the families who were among the first to come into the centre when it opened last year, and see how much the little babies we delivered have grown!

“Ever since the first plans for the South Lakes Birth Centre were being created, we wanted it to be a part of the local community. A year on and we are still overwhelmed by the amount of support we have from people nearby and further afield.”

The first baby to be welcomed into the world at the centre was McKenzie Kirkland, who was born a week early when he arrived on February 7 2018.

Ann-Marie Kirkland, McKenzie’s mum, said: "We will never forget the fantastic staff who looked after us all and helped us so much. We were treated like family and think the unit and its staff are absolutely perfect."

The centre includes 14 en-suite birthing rooms with facilities for partners to stay over, two dedicated operating theatres, a maternity assessment area, a transitional care facility, a skills lab for staff training, and a dedicated bereavement suite and garden.