Magnolia House helped us through our family's darkest time

Mum Sarah Thornton is walking 50 miles throughout June to fundraise for The Sick Children's Trust after we supported her family at our Magnolia House'Home from Home' in Sheffield

A mum who we supported at our Magnolia House ‘Home from Home’ at Sheffield Children’s Hospital is raising vital funds for us by walking 50 miles throughout the month of June in our Home to Home challenge.

Sarah Thornton, from Riddings, Derbyshire, decided to take on our Long Walk Home challenge to say thank you after her newborn son Joel was urgently transferred from Chesterfield Royal Hospital to Sheffield for specialist care. 

Arriving via emergency caesarean section at Chesterfield Royal Hospital in December 2023, baby Joel was rushed to see specialists in Sheffield after vomiting green bile. Following a scan for a suspected twisted stomach, Joel spent the next five days in the neonatal intensive care unit, experiencing breathing difficulties, dangerously low blood sugar levels and jaundice.

Baby Joel undergoing light therapy for jaundice at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Credit: Sarah Thornton.

Throughout Joel’s time at Sheffield Children’s Hospital Sarah and her partner, Andrew Evans (33), were able to stay close to their child’s side thanks to Magnolia House, our ‘Home from Home’ located just minutes from the hospital ward and completely free of charge. Sarah, 31, said:

“Without the help of The Sick Children’s Trust, we wouldn’t have not been able to stay and look after our son whilst he was having his treatment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Magnolia House was just three minutes away from where Joel was healing, giving us peace of mind and a safe place where me and Andrew could stay, even though we were miles away from home. It was the most amazing place.

“I don’t know what we would have done without it, and the charity asked for nothing in return. They were there for us when we really needed it, removing a huge weight from our shoulders by giving us a warm roof over our heads. Having a place where we could rest and process everything that was going on allowed us to be at our best for our little man.”

To the family’s great relief, baby Joel made a steady recovery and, when he was five days old, was allowed to go home for the very first time. Sarah said:

“Joel is doing amazingly well. He no longer needs an NG tube to be fed, he is now starting solids and loving it! He has tripled in size and his personality is shining on through.”

By way of thanking the charity for its support, Sarah is currently taking on the Long Walk Home challenge with the aim of clocking up 50 miles throughout June to raise vital funds. Sarah, who at the time of writing had raised £405 of her £500 target, said:

“I really wanted to give something back to The Sick Children’s Trust after they were there for us when we really needed it, which was so important to us. We know it costs the charity around £40 to support a family for one night, so a £500 target really could help some families going through the same thing we did. We can never repay what The Sick Children’s Trust did for us, but we are forever grateful for them being there at one of our darkest times as a family.”

More details about Sarah fundraising challenge can be found on her Just Giving page:

The Long Walk Home is part of The Sick Children’s Trust’s Home to Home challenge series, where fundraisers up and down the country take on cycles, swims, runs, walks and toddles in support of the charity’s ten ‘Homes from Home’.

Joel, Sarah and Andrew at home. Credit: Sarah Thornton.

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