A keen sportsman is fundraising on behalf of his younger sister by taking on a 24 hour running challenge to raise money for The Sick Children’s Trust as his niece turns one year old this December.
Doncaster Rugby League player, Liam Welham, has applied to break the Guinness World Record for a continuous 24 hour jog. 28 year old Liam, from Hull, is taking on this challenge in February to thank The Sick Children’s Trust for supporting his sister, Emily, and her partner, Josh Duffield, when their daughter Amelia was born and needed lifesaving treatment.
Liam’s sister Emily, now 18, was 20 weeks pregnant when doctors diagnosed her baby with congenital heart disease (CHD). They discovered that the left side of her heart was not working properly. Emily and her childhood sweetheart Josh, 20, then had to make the painstaking decision to either terminate the pregnancy or carry their baby to full term, with doctors warning that the pregnancy was very high risk and Amelia had little chance of survival.
Baby Amelia arrived on 4 December 2016 at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI). But at just three days old she underwent major open heart surgery with doctors warning her parents to prepare for the worst. Miraculously she survived the operation and began to put on weight and grow stronger. Whilst Amelia was fighting for her life in hospital her parents were given free accommodation at Eckersley House, one of ten ‘Homes from Home’ across the country run by The Sick Children’s Trust. Liam, who fundraised for the charity earlier this year by running a half marathon and organising a sponsored assault course at his local school, Parks Academy, says:
“Emily and Josh stayed in Eckersley House for over three weeks after Amelia was born. It was a tough time as it was just before Christmas and everyone around us was excited while we were all desperate with worry. Our family were allowed to spend Christmas Day at Eckersley House and visit Amelia in hospital, which was where we needed to be. The staff took such good care of my little sister which was a huge comfort to all of us. We were all very worried about how she would cope with Amelia being so ill, but she has been incredible throughout.
“Amelia had to have her second major heart surgery at the beginning of June and once again the doctors were very worried about her chances, but she amazed them. After the operation she fought her way off all the machines, making it back home with Emily and Josh in such a short time. Once again, during this time Emily and Josh were supported by Eckersley House and were given a place they could call home free of charge. They are both new parents and my family were comforted to know that Emily was being cared for and offered emotional support by the fantastic staff at Eckersley House when we couldn’t be with her. Amelia has recovered very quickly. At her last check up, the doctor was so pleased with her progress that he doesn’t need to see her until next year. All of us are thrilled. She is such a little fighter.”
Liam is on a fundraising mission for The Sick Children’s Trust and earlier this year organised The Mini Endurance Event at The Parks Academy, which was a huge success with over one hundred schoolchildren taking part. Liam, who is keen to carry on fundraising and has aspirations to kayak the Channel next year, continues:
“My siblings and I attended The Parks Academy when we were younger and it is where my kids are at school now, so it seemed like a great place to start raising awareness of the fantastic work of The Sick Children’s Trust and the heart charities, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and KEEPTHEBEAT, who have supported Emily, Josh and Amelia.
“It was a little nerve wracking talking to the entire school and staff about The Sick Children’s Trust, Amelia’s condition and the treatment she was receiving at LGI, but it has definitely inspired the kids to get fundraising. The Mini Endurance Event was just another idea of a fun way to get the kids involved. They loved it and it has helped us raise more money.
“My next challenges are breaking the Guinness World Record for a 24 hour continuous jog in December and running 200 miles during the months of November and December. I just want to continue fundraising for the charity that helped my little sister.”
The Sick Children’s Trust runs ten ‘Homes from Home’ across the country, giving families with seriously ill children free accommodation just minutes from their child’s hospital bedside. Eckersley House Manager, Jane McHale, says:
“It is great that Emily has such a supportive family. Not only is Liam well known because of his sporting achievements, which has helped his fundraising profile, but he is also incredibly motivated and dedicated to raising money for The Sick Children’s Trust. As a charity we rely on voluntary donations so we can continue to support families in the worst imaginable situations; the money that Liam and the children have raised will make a big difference for many families.
“I can’t believe Amelia is almost a year old. I heard from Emily last time she visited us that she has planned to take Amelia to a Cake Smash photo shoot in Hull and I can’t wait to see the photos!”
For further information about The Sick Children’s Trust, please visit http://www.sickchildrenstrust.org/
Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of The Sick Children's Trust, on Tuesday 14 November, 2017. For more information subscribe and follow https://pressat.co.uk/