Uniformed Public Services Students Walk 33 Miles to Raise Funds for the Freeman HospitalPrint Page
The intrepid route march was to raise much needed cash for the hospital unit that saved the life of a miracle baby
Darlington College student Abbie Taylor enlisted the support of colleagues on the Uniformed and Public Services extended diploma for a 33-mile trek along Hadrian’s Wall in the wilds of Northumberland.
They aimed to raise more than £1,000 for CHUF, the Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Hospital Unit Fund, which helped her brother Finlay, who was just day’s from death when he was born with a heart abnormality.
Abbie’s family had to cope with a string of traumas when Finlay was born at Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital seven years ago.
For the first eight months of his life he was poorly leaving medical staff puzzled by his condition.
Then shortly after his mum Gayle was airlifted to hospital after a motorcycle accident, Finlay was diagnosed with pneumonia.
X-rays revealed his heart was the size of a five-year-old’s and he was rushed into intensive care and placed on the transplant list. His heart was also under attack from a virus. But doctors at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, finally pinpointed his troubles to a dangerously narrow aorta and performed a life-saving operation.
Abbie, who wants to study criminology one day, said: “Finlay was so poorly. He could have died in his sleep at any time. Now he is great – just like an annoying little brother should be.
“So when our tutor asked us to choose a charity we all jumped at the chance of helping CHUF. The walk was tough and we got soaked through but it was well worthwhile.”
Café-owner Gayle, of Darlington, said: “The unit was fantastic and looked after us both. Finlay had cardiomyopathy as well as coarctation of the aorta, which affects one in 2,000 children. His blood pressure was through the roof and he was ready to pop.
“I stayed up there for three months and was in a wheelchair with a badly broken leg. The staff were fantastic and ever since the whole family has been raising money for CHUF.”
Finlay, who attends St Augustine’s Primary School, said” “It is amazing to think I could have died. When I go for my check-ups they call me the little miracle.”
Students completed the gruelling trek in poor weather conditions in two days camping out overnight in a barn.
Darlington College tutor Gary Paxton added: “It is the fourth year the students have chosen to support a charity by securing sponsorship for the expedition.
“For many, the trip was the first outdoor experience but it was also an invaluable opportunity to do something for the community.”