It's a boy, a boy, a boy and a boy

One came earlier than expected, the other late, but both provided their parents with a special Christmas surprise.

Baby Pekham and baby Moore (both are yet to be named) were born within minutes of each other at Dunedin Hospital's Queen Mary ward yesterday morning, along with two other babies.

The first baby was born at 9.40am, baby Pekham at 11.40am, baby Moore at 11.58, and what was expected to be the last born yesterday at 2.15pm.

All four were boys.

For Emere Leitch-Munro, of Dunedin, and Chris Peckham, of the United Kingdom, it was their first baby and he arrived a week late.

''Just in time for me to have some cold Christmas ham,'' Ms Leitch-Munro said.

Baby Moore was the third child for Sarah and Jason, of Roxburgh, and a special Christmas present for older brother Jude (4) and sister Willa (20 months).

''He was due on the 28th but I've been two weeks late with each of my others, so I was expecting a January baby.''

All 183 patients at Dunedin Hospital yesterday each received $8 in a 78-year-old Christmas tradition.

The Richmond Shilling has been distributed to Christmas patients since 1943 from a bequest by James Richmond, proprietor of Richmond's Scotia Hotel. Interest earned on his bequest is

distributed to patients each year and the amount varies slightly.

Dunedin Hospital's emergency department was moderately busy, staff said yesterday.

They expected the number of patients to increase throughout the afternoon and evening, as is typical on Christmas Day.rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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