Twin boys who spent the first weeks of their life in hospital have become the 1,000th members of the Filbert Club at Keighley’s Airedale Shopping Centre.
And as Tyler and Jake Webster’s mum Bethan mum picked up their membership cards, they met the club’s very first member, Carol Lund, along with the nutty squirrel himself, Filbert.
Started four years ago, the club offers special deals for families at the Airedale Centre, including children’s activities and events plus special parking facilities, with day passes for tourists and visitors to Keighley.
Filbert was on hand to present goodie bags to Bethan for the 13-month-old twins and their big brother Calvin, seven, as well as Carol, who came forward after an appeal to trace the club’s original members.
Identical twins Jake and Tyler were born five weeks early in November 2014, and spent two weeks at Bradford Royal Infirmary, having been due to be born a week before Christmas.
“I was having trouble breathing and went into hospital to get checked out,” said Bethan. “While I was on the ward my waters broke and I went into labour. Jake and Tyler were in hospital for two weeks as they had trouble feeding, though they’re great now and really healthy.
“I was quite relieved that they didn’t arrive a week before Christmas as it would have been really hectic.”
Also joining the Filbert club was the twins’ gran Joanne Noble-Midgley, who looked after them until the pair started at the Rocking Horse Nursery in Oxenhope.
Joanne, who works for a solicitors’ firm in Leeds and volunteers as a clerk in the Territorial Army, said: “It was such a surprise to discover we are the 1000th family to become members of the Filbert club and receiving goodie bags was brilliant.
“I saw the club advertised when I was looking after the boys and the parking facility particularly has been brilliant, especially when you’re struggling to get twin babies in and out of car seats and buggies and into the shops.”
Joining Filbert the Squirrel, Bethan and Joanne in the celebrations was Carol, who became the first Filbert Club member in October 2011.
She is mum to Jake, four, a pupil at Nessfield Primary School in Keighley, Thomas, ten and Bethany, 13.
Carol said: “What a nice surprise and to meet other members of the Filbert Club, including the most recent member, is really lovely. We received a goodie bag including chocolates!.”
Carol, married to Marcus, now plans to attend some of the special events organised by the Filbert Club.
Filbert the squirrel has also helped opened new stores at the centre, as well as making his own personal appearances further afield, such as the annual Sue Ryder Mascot Gold Cup held at Wetherby racecourse.
Airedale centre manager Steve Seymour said: “Here at Airedale Centre, we regularly host events specifically designed for children. These range from themed activities like Alice in Wonderland magic and storytelling days to educational roadshows on fair trade products.
“Filbert the Squirrel makes regular appearances at the events to meet and greet young guests and pose for pictures. He also works hard to raise money for local good causes and charities.”
“The Filbert club is free to join and anyone with a child under five can be a member and they will be issued with a pass to display in their windscreen whilst parked in one of the dedicated bays on Level One and Five.
“We decided to introduce the special parking places, alongside our disabled parking bays, to ensure that families found it easier to visit the centre.”
The Filbert Club informs and advises members of events, activities and offers at the centre and manages the parent and guardian parking spaces to ensure they are available for families. The club also offers day permits for occasional visitors and tourists and is monitored by centre personnel to offer help and assistance when it is needed.
Airedale Shopping Centre is home to more than 80 stores, from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink and has more than 425 parking spaces. More details at airedaleshoppingcentre.co.uk