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Summit or Nothin’ for NICU

On Friday 14th August two brave men set out to complete the grueling Three Peaks Challenge in support of The Forever Friends Appeal. This popular, but by no means easy, challenge involves walking, climbing and (sometimes!) crawling  to the top of Ben Nevis (1344m), Scafell Pike (978m) and Snowdon (1085m), the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales. Richard Rogers and Adam Brown successfully completed their ‘Summit or Nothin’’ superhero feat in less than 24 hours and raised £200!

The duo decided to take on this challenge to support their close friends Neil and Jess Fawcett, of Peasedown St John, and their gorgeous son Ayrton to help raise funds for the Royal United Hospital’s Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) – a unit the family is so thankful for and champions on a daily basis.

After months of training with long runs, walks and weight training – they were ready. Richard explains: “This challenge was tough, tougher than we realized, but we made it! It took us 5 hours and 15 minutes to complete a cloudy Ben Nevis,  5 hours and 50 minutes for  a sunny Scafell Pike and roughly 4 and a half hours to finish our challenge at the top of Snowdon in the dark. Our day began at 5am, heading to Ben Nevis and to our surprise and delight we made it to Snowdon, the final peak, at just gone midnight. The views were amazing at the top and we were the only people on the mountain! 

The challenge was important to us because it was a real test of physical and mental toughness. Raising money for Bath’s NICU is important because we know what good the team do for so many babies. We like to think that even though we did not raise thousands of pounds we may of helped at least one family.”

Baby Ayrton was born on 11th August 2013, at 27 weeks weighing just 2lb8oz and was immediately taken to be cared for on NICU. Even before little Ayrton was brought into the world, his parents had a long and difficult journey. Mum, Jess Fawcett explains Ayrton’s journey and the reason her family and friends supports this very special unit:

“No amount of words can describe how hard it is as a Mum when you have a child in NICU.  As a mother, you feel like you have let your child down before they have even had a chance to live their life.

10 years before Ayrton was born, myself and my husband Neil went through all the fertility treatment available… which sadly failed. I was then told there was only a 1.8% chance of ever falling pregnant naturally – which was completely devastating.  After all the heartache of not being able to have a family and counselling to come to terms with everything else going on in our heads, we decided to focus on being the best Auntie and Uncle to our nieces and nephews…

I was suffering from endometriosis and my cycle was abnormal, so missing a period was ‘normal’… until I started to suffer heartburn three days in a row, which was really unusual, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment… The day before Mother’s Day 2013 we found out they were having a baby!

My pregnancy progressed fantastically well until August. I started to feel the most horrendous pain ever, so Neil took me straight into the RUH to get checked over.  The doctor told us that my waters were leaking and so I had to stay in hospital until the baby was born, using special injections to keep my pregnancy going until 32 weeks…  which was still a whole 6 weeks away. We were so worried and it felt like our whole world was crashing down around us.

Just one week later on 11th August 2013 at 5.45pm we gave birth to beautiful son who was born at 27 weeks weighing only 2 lbs 8oz.

The staff in NICU were amazing and even though we both knew our son was fighting for his little life… we made a pact.  All negativity was to stay at the door – only positivity was allowed in.

As the weeks went by, Ayrton got stronger and stronger, but at 5 weeks old (32 weeks) we received a phone call we never expected.  At 4am, NICU called to say our little miracle had been ventilated, and that we should come in immediately.  By 9am, Ayrton was rushed to St. Michaels Hospital in Bristol, where he underwent a 4 hour operation. With only a 1 in 5 chance of surviving, Ayrton had contracted NEC (dying of the bowel) and had to have 15 cm of bowel removed.  Against all odds Ayrton impoved and after spending 2 out of 4 weeks in Bristol on Morphine, he was transferred back to Bath’s NICU until it was time to go home.

Finally after 13 weeks in hospital, on the 8th November 2013 (4 days after his due date) we were allowed to take our son home! If it wasn’t for RUH’s NICU and the surgeons in Bristol, the outcome could have been ever so different. We owe our Son’s life to all the doctors and nurses who spent all their time, love, sweat and tears to keep him alive.

Neil and I are so proud of Richard and Adam for completing such a tough challenge. Despite everything they faced….they came through and fought on. Thank you both from past, present and future families in NICU!”

At the Royal United Hospital in Bath one in ten babies are born too early, too sick or too soon and therefore need additional care like Ayrton. The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) provides this type of care to around three hundred babies every year. These babies, who can fit in the palm of your hand or are too sick to survive on their own, need everything that modern technology can offer. This very Centre was 50% funded by The Forever Friends Appeal, the main charitable arm of the Hospital, from charitable support as part of the NICU ‘space to grow’ Campaign and provides these premature babies with the best possible start in life. Charitable donations and support from people like Richard, Adam and the Fawcett family, continue provide state-of-the-art treatment and diagnostic equipment that helps staff deliver the best possible care to these fragile young lives.

To sponsor the ‘Summit or Nothin’’ challenge (Richard and Adam’s fundraising page is still open!) and support premature babies at the RUH like Ayrton, please visit their online fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/Summitornothin

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