A chartered surveyor is preparing to run the London Marathon for Bliss, the premature and sick baby charity, in honour of her niece who was born six weeks early.
Helen Vickery (30) met her niece, Heidi, much sooner than she expected.
Her sister-in-law, Laura, had a smooth pregnancy before she developed pre-eclampsia when she was 34 weeks pregnant. Laura was kept in hospital overnight but her body began to reject the baby and her organs began to shut down.
The decision was soon made to perform an emergency c-section and Heidi was born weighing 3lb 10oz. She spent four weeks in neonatal care at Burnley General Hospital.
Helen, of Whalley, said: “Over the next four weeks, Heidi proved herself to be a little fighter as she battled jaundice and other obstacles. She is now a gorgeous cheeky little girl and I’m so proud to be her aunt.
“By simply putting one foot in front of the other and running the London Marathon raises money to help boost the work which Bliss does on a daily basis and if I can just help one set of parents it is worth it.
"Bliss’ information about prematurity was so useful to the whole family while Heidi was in neonatal care.
“It is truly a wonderful charity and I’m proud to be running for them.”
Laura, who lives in Burnley, said: “We feel very lucky and struggle to express our gratitude to the staff at Burnley for their support. When Helen decided to do the London Marathon to raise money for Bliss my heart swelled with pride.
“It means so much to our whole family. I just know that after months of training and hard work crossing that finish line in April will be a wonderful achievement.
“Every single penny she’s been sponsored will be going to such a great meaningful cause.”
Chief Executive of Bliss, Caroline Lee-Davey, said: “I wish Helen the best of luck taking on the London Marathon for Bliss.
"She is part of a wonderful team of dedicated runners who are raising money and awareness for the one in eight babies across the UK who are born in need of neonatal care. The vital funds Helen raises will help us to achieve our ambition to reach every single baby born premature or sick in the UK and their families.”
If you would like to support Helen, you can donate to her fundraising page: https://goo.gl/raxqKf