Parents take on London Marathon in memory of son

Sue and Alex Lea are taking on the London Marathon to raise money to support our 'Homes from Home' in memory of their son, Jasper, who sadly passed away in 2019.

A mum and dad are taking on the London Marathon to raise money to support The Sick Children’s Trust in memory of their son.

Sue and Alex Lea from St Neots, Cambridgeshire will join the 40,000 runners taking on the iconic course around the capital to raise money in memory of their son, Jasper, who sadly passed away in 2019.

During a routine scan in 2017 it was revealed that Jasper’s umbilical cord was below him, putting Jasper at risk of the cord prolapsing which would starve him of oxygen during the delivery. The couple were advised that he would likely need to be born by caesarean section to prevent this from happening. They were told to go home before returning the next day for his delivery. However, Sue went into labour that night with the cord prolapsing. Alex called for an ambulance and they were rushed from their home to Hinchingbrooke Hospital where Jasper was delivered by emergency caesarean.

Needing specialist care, Jasper was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital where a scan confirmed he had suffered severe brain damage before he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He then spent the next six weeks recovering, with Sue and Alex being supported by The Sick Children’s Trust and its ‘Home from Home’, Chestnut House, so they could always be close to Jasper’s side.

After returning home with his parents and brothers, George and Freddie, Jasper still faced many challenges because of his complex disabilities. Due to his weakened lungs Jasper was more vulnerable to pneumonia, the condition which sadly took his life two years later in 2019. Sue and Alex have not forgotten the support they received from The Sick Children’s Trust with the couple now taking on the London Marathon to raise vital funds. Sue said:

“Prior to staying at Chestnut House, we didn’t know The Sick Children’s Trust or their ‘Homes from Home’ even existed, which I think is the case for most parents. Knowing there is this safety net should your child become seriously ill is so important. Being told we had this accommodation was amazing, giving us the opportunity to stay with our son Jasper. We’ll never forget how much it helped us.

“We only live 40 minutes away from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, but Jasper’s condition was so severe, it was too far away. We didn’t even know if he would survive the first few days after his birth, so Chestnut House made sure we didn’t miss any time with him.”

“I took on the marathon in 2019, raising over £10,000 for The Sick Children’s Trust. I wanted to do it again to raise even more funds for this amazing charity, roping Alex in as well. It’s been great training together and it’s such a fantastic event – I’m really looking forward to doing it again.”

Alex, who stayed with Sue at Chestnut House, added:

“Having lost Jasper at such a young age made us realise those six weeks at Chestnut House were incredibly important as every second we got to spend with Jasper was precious. Despite the circumstances, we have fond memories of our time staying there. Thanks to The Sick Children’s Trust we had a base where we could be together as a family. It meant George and Freddie could come and see their baby brother and we never had to miss out on any time with our son.

“We’ll be forever grateful for that, and we want to do whatever we can so more families can have that support. Taking on my first marathon at 45 means the joints will start to go halfway round the course, but our training is going really well.  Running with Sue and the thought of seeing the boys at the end of the race will get me through. I know it will be hard but it will also be a lot of fun. Knowing that we’re running for Jasper and a charity that means so much to us will be all the motivation we need to get to the finish.”

Alex and Sue will join 12 other runners taking part to raise money to support The Sick Children’s Trust. While the charity does not charge families to stay in any of its ten ‘Homes from Home’ it does cost the charity £40 a night to support a family, and that is only rising with the cost-of-living crisis. Community Fundraising Officer, Georgina Hughes, said:

“We’re incredibly sorry for Sue and Alex’s loss, but we’re glad we were able to support them at Chestnut House so they could have invaluable time together with Jasper. We can’t thank them both enough for all their efforts to support more families and we wish them all the best with the London Marathon.

“As a charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters and fundraisers, like Sue and Alex, to make sure we can continue supporting families while their children are seriously ill in hospital. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to keep parents with their children when they need them the most.”

More information about Sue and Alex’s fundraising can be found on their Enthuse fundraising page

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