Joining a cast of thousands in one of the world’s most famous cities, three Norfolk dads will be tackling this weekend’s Cambridge Half Marathon to raise funds for The Sick Children’s Trust, who supported their families while their children were in hospital. The Sick Children’s Trust is the charity that gives families with a seriously ill child in hospital a warm and comfortable place to stay when they need it most.
The three runners, brothers Richard and Matt Stainthorpe and close friend Mike Timm, will be taking on the scenic but challenging 13-mile course this Sunday (6 March). The challenge is part of a year-long effort to raise thousands of pounds for the charity that has supported both the Stainthorpes and Timms by providing a place to stay while their children were being treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Richard and Donna Stainthorpe with their baby daughter Imogen, who passed away in 2014.
Richard and wife Donna stayed at The Sick Children’s Trust’s Acorn House – one of ten ‘Homes from Home’ run by the charity, nationwide – in 2014 after their three-week-old daughter Imogen was transferred from the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, some 70 miles away, for specialist assessment and care. Although Imogen – who was unable to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator – sadly passed away three weeks later, her parents remain incredibly thankful to the charity for providing a place to stay free of charge, enabling them to always remain close to their baby girl.
“I remember us arriving in Cambridge feeling such a vast array of emotions, knowing we needed to stay as close as we could to Imogen at all times”, said Richard, who will also be attempting the North Norfolk Triathlon, the ‘Nuclear Race’ – a 12-mile mud and obstacle course in Brentwood, Essex – and the Great North Run later in the year.
“Travelling back and forth from Norwich simply wasn’t an option, so we were looking at nearby hotels or even considering renting somewhere close, neither of which we could afford but were willing to do if we had to. It was an extra layer of anxiety at a very difficult time, but one taken away by The Sick Children’s Trust, who gave us a room at their Acorn House ‘Home from Home’ on site at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
“It was a huge relief for us, allowing us to focus all our energies on her while also having a place where we could look after ourselves, have a shower, wash our clothes, and have a bite to eat. Although the story did not have a happy ending, we remain eternally grateful to the charity, for giving us moments with Imogen that we might not have otherwise had.”
Mike Timm and wife Laura have also been supported by the charity in recent years, with daughter Eleanor having made the same journey down the A11 to Cambridge, where they also stayed at Acorn House. Two-year-old Eleanor is one of only five children in the world to have been identified with an ultra-rare condition called Osteo-Oto-Hepato-Enteric Syndrome, which caused the intestinal failure that resulted in her transfer to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for specialist care. Laura said:
“Although I was able to sleep beside Eleanor on the ward, Acorn House provided a place for me to wash Eleanor’s clothes, something I needed to do frequently due to her bowel condition. They also provided a room for us for the weekend so Mike and Eleanor’s sister Evie could visit, and we could all spend time together in a home environment away from the clinical, noisy ward. We spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching TV together, having a cuppa. It was just magical. It’s those normal things you miss while in hospital with your child.”
The Sick Children’s Trust has two ‘Homes from Home’ in Cambridge, with Chestnut House supporting families with children being treated at The Rosie Hospital. The charity, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, has supported over 73,000 families nationwide since its inception in 1982. Abigail Abdel-aal, Acorn House Manager, said:
“I am thrilled to hear that Richard, Matt and Mike will be taking part in the Cambridge Half Marathon to raise funds for The Sick Children’s Trust. We are so proud to be able to support families such as theirs and do all we can to make things just a little bit easier for parents at the most stressful of times. I’m so grateful that they are doing this for The Sick Children’s Trust and wish them the very best of luck this weekend.”
More information about their fundraising can be found on their Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-stainthorpe3 .
Friends Mike Timm (left) and Richard Stainthorpe (right) will be joined by Richard’s brother Matt in this weekend’s Cambridge Half Marathon, raising money for The Sick Children’s Trust.