Intruder system designer Matt’s sponsored walk
I can’t tell you just how helpless we all felt when my sister went into labour with the twins in October 2010. The babies weren’t due until February 2011 so they were four months premature. It was touch-and-go for months; the babies only weighed 1lb 6oz and 1lb 5oz at birth and River, particularly, was very poorly. He was transferred to Southampton and had four major operations in as many months.
We can’t speak highly enough of the care that the two boys got at both the QA and Southampton Neo-Natal Units and as a family, we wanted to give something back so when we heard that the charity Ickle Pickles was prepared to sponsor a walk for the QA Neo-Natal unit on 3 March, we were up for it.
Proudly wearing our Ickle Pickles T shirts, the twins’ parents, my sister and her husband and my 11 year old niece and 13 year old nephew, my wife and I joined 120 others, including Batman and Robin, for a day to remember. My Mum and my other sister and her twins stayed home to look after Caleb and River.
It was a great atmosphere, lots of laughing and singing – songs like “I Will Survive” and the Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be” (‘I would walk 500 miles’) – and along the whole route, people were cheering us on and even stopping their cars to give us donations and wish us well.
We started out from QA, up the hill and along to Bedhampton, down to Farlington and along the Eastern Road, then on to Milton, Eastney and the sea front, stopping at the Sea Life Centre for a photo call, then on to Old Portsmouth, Gunwharf and into Commercial Road (more photos in front of the fountain), up to Fratton, North End and back to QA via Hilsea and Cosham – twenty three miles in all. It took us nine hours and was worth every minute and every blister because we raised £32K.
Refreshments were provided by ASDA along the route, and my Mum, sister and the children joined us at the various stops, making it a real family affair.
Without the dedication and skill of the Neo-Natal Units, this story would have a very different ending but Caleb came home in January 2011 and River in March. Nearly eighteen months on our little miracles are doing really well. Caleb is walking now and River is sitting up; he still faces another operation but he’s a real little fighter, they both are.
I’d like to thank everyone who gave so generously and it’s not too late. Anyone who is interested can still donate by getting in touch with me (ext 2414).
We literally owe the boys’ lives to the Neo Natal units so we’ll certainly be doing the walk again next year.
Matt Reader – Intruder Alarm System Designer
The Ickle Pickle Foundation
Set up in 2008 to help the 20,000 smallest and sickest babies born each year in the UK by purchasing specialist NNU equipment, improving NNU facilities, helping to fundraise for specific units and raising awareness of Neo Natal care.