Wiltshire Publications

Westbury man’s march for lifesaving baby care unit

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THE friends and family of a man from Westbury have raised over £2,000 for the neonatal intensive care unit at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, by walking over 28-miles in less than 12 hours.

Jon O’Loughlin organised the fundraiser with his wife Carly to thank the hospital for caring for their twin daughters, Roxy and Rae, when they were born three months premature in May 2016, after Carly had a brain haemorrhage.

Describing the events, Jon said, “When Carly fell ill whilst pregnant it kicked off the craziest day of our lives. Carly was rushed to Bath Royal United Hospital and the twins were delivered 14 weeks early weighing under 2lbs each. Carly had a brain bleed and was placed in a coma – all three girls were transferred to Southmead’s incredible intensive care units.

“With round the clock care in three different neonatal intensive care units the twins fought infections, learnt to breath, feed and scream the place down! Four and a half months later we got to take our beautiful girls home, healthy and happy. We can’t thank Southmead enough for the continued support and care they’ve given Carly and the girls.”

Jon and the group – which included his father Roger Hawker and brother Andy Hawker, who both live in Westbury – walked from Bradford on Avon to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, on Sunday 29th September. Wife Carly, the twins Roxy and Rae, now aged three, and eldest son Riley, age 6, cheered them on along the way.

“It was hard-going,” said Jon. “We started at 6am in the pitch black, which made walking down the tow path very interesting! But we made good time and were in Bath by 11am. We struggled towards the end – the route was meant to be 26 miles long, but somehow we ended up walking 28.5 miles in around 11 and a half hours, with minimal stops.

“When we arrived at Southmead, we dropped off a care package of donated items to the neonatal intensive care unit, which included nappies, biscuits, and other things we remembered wanting when we were there. It also included hats and blankets that had been crocheted by Carly – something she started when the girls were born. We also donated a care package to the RUH in Bath when we stopped there.

“At the end we were in a lot of pain, and a bit delirious, but we were all chuffed to make it. And we are so grateful to everyone who supported us and donated – we have had some massive sums given to us – the guy we buy our kebabs from gave us £100.

“It’s also been incredible to hear other people’s stories – you don’t realise how many people know someone who has been supported by a neonatal intensive care unit, or whose own children have received treatment.”

About what’s next for the O’Loughlin family, Jon said, “We’ll probably plan another fundraiser, but it won’t be another 28 mile walk!”

To support Jon and his family and donate to the neonatal intensive care unit at Southmead Hospital, visit: www.justgiving.com/ fundraising/roxyandrae