A dad from Essex is testing his limits to raise vital funds for The Sick Children’s Trust, the charity that supported his family with a ‘Home from Home’ when his premature son was urgently transferred from Chelmsford to The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge.
Baby Jude Eddleston. Credit: James Eddleston.
James Eddleston, from Finchingfield, is aiming to cycle the 41-mile ambulance route that transported baby Jude, who in June 2023 was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator after arriving six weeks early via emergency caesarean section, for life-saving care on the specialist neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at The Rosie. James, 36, said:
“I’ll always remember the moment he was born. He cried for around five seconds and then fell silent. Moments later, one of the medical staff shouted, ‘code blue’. A team of medics rushed in, immediately giving him oxygen before putting a tube though his nose into his lungs and taking him away. It was utterly terrifying. We expected some complications because of the gestational diabetes, a potential Strep-B infection and all the other flags that were coming up at the time, but nothing could have prepared us for what happened.”
Jude’s transport incubator. Credit: James Eddleston.
The medical team at Broomfield told James and wife Faith that baby Jude was on a ventilator in intensive care as his lungs were not working. Jude needed to be transferred to Cambridge, over an hour away from Chelmsford where Faith needed to stay while she recovered from her c-section. James said:
“It was at this point we both started to panic. Faith, who only saw Jude for a moment when he was born, was inconsolable when she saw him in the transport incubator, with wires and tubes connected to his tiny body.
“Jude was taken to The Rosie Hospital by the amazing PaNDR ambulance transfer team, with me following up by car. I arrived just after he did, and he was put into the NICU. He had cannulas in both hands, feet, and belly button as well as lots of wires and tubes. It was upsetting to see.”
Showing clear signs of exhaustion and stress, a NICU nurse kindly arranged for James to stay at Chestnut House, a ‘Home from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust which was located just two floors below the NICU. James said:
James feeds baby Jude at The Rosie Hospital. Credit: James Eddleston
“I had my own room just minutes from where Jude was being treated. It was amazing; beyond anything I was expecting. As well as a comfy bed, my room also had an en-suite bathroom and a direct telephone line to the ward, meaning I could be contacted by the medical staff even when I was resting. There was a kitchen and communal dining space as well as washing machines, all at no cost.
“Having that room at Chestnut House was crucial for us, especially with Jude needing his mum’s milk to help his recovery. I would frequently drive over to Chelmsford to see Faith, then take milk back to Cambridge for Jude. It was exhausting, but with Jude improving, being taken off sedation, it was worth it.”
James and Jude. Credit: James Eddleston
Faith was discharged from Chelmsford three days after Jude’s dramatic arrival. However, as she was still in considerable pain, she would spend her days with Jude in Cambridge before returning to sleep at home, aiding her own recovery while also staying close to the couple’s daughter, Maeve.
After being slowly weaned off the life-support machines, Jude returned to Broomfield, going home four days later. James said:
“He’s doing brilliantly, now. He certainly has a set of pipes on him, he lets us know when he is unhappy! He keeps us up at night, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Commenting on the ‘Jude’s Journey’ cycle challenge, James said: “I’m not a cyclist so for me this is quite a challenge. I wanted to do something to thank The Sick Children’s Trust for being there for my family. It cost the charity around £40 to support a family for one night, and I hope I can raise some good money to help them continue to being there for families during such stressful times.”
More information about James’s fundraising can be found on his Just Giving page by clicking here.
To read more about how we supported James at Chestnut House, click here.
Mum Faith with daughter Maeve and son Jude. Credit: James Eddleston.