LITTLE Hugo Bowles has given his parents the best Christmas present ever by coming home for the first time.

The three-month-old baby was born 15 weeks premature and has spent all his young life in hospital.

His mother Antonia Bowles and father Fred Pope were desperate for Hugo to be able to join them and his brother and sister at home for the big day.

They were delighted and overwhelmed when staff at the Trevor Mann special care unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton finally gave the go-ahead for Hugo to be discharged.

Ms Bowles, 30, of Elphick Road, Newhaven, said: “I was just so happy and excited.

“It was the best Christmas present we could have asked for.”

Hugo was born at the Royal Sussex at just over 25 weeks and weighing a tiny 1lb 5oz. He had to be resuscitated before being taken to the Trevor Mann.

Ms Bowles who had to have an emergency caesarean after she began bleeding, saw Hugo for the first time after she came around from the anaesthetic.

She said: “I could not believe how small he was. His head was the size of a golf ball. It was touch and go at the beginning and everyone was on alert.

“On one occasion he had a problem with his milk tube and had to be resuscitated and go back on the ventilator for a bit. However he soon started to make progress and was getting bigger and stronger each day.

“In the last few weeks he really started to improve in earnest.

“They normally like to wait until a baby has reached their scheduled birth date before going home and in Hugo’s case it was January 2.

“I kept asking staff if we could get him home for Christmas and they told us they were trying as hard as they could to make it happen.

“It was such a relief when we were told yes.”

The couple are now looking forward to spending a quiet and relaxing Christmas at home with Hugo, who now weighs 5lb, and their other two children Ella-Louise, 13 and Blake, three. Blake was also born prematurely and cared for at the Trevor Mann so Ms Bowles knew what to expect.

Ms Bowles, a carer, said: “The staff at the unit were absolutely amazing and did so much to help us.

“There were two nurses in particular who I called a double act and always cheered me up and made me laugh.

“Everyone was so supportive and helpful and I cannot thank them all enough.

“Thanks to them we are going to enjoy the best Christmas ever.

“It is such a pleasure knowing the whole family is going to be together.

“We are going to eat lots of food and relax and enjoy a special time.

“I was at the hospital all the time over the past few weeks so it will be lovely not to have to go anywhere.”

Ms Bowles is now considering a change in career and wants to work in a premature baby unit. She said she was inspired by the Trevor Mann staff.