The parents of a boy given little chance of survival after being born at 31 weeks are fund-raising for three charities who supported them through their darkest time.
Mark and Anna Boxall, from Whitley Bay, have been working hard to raise both money and awareness for The Sick Children’s Trust, the Tiny Lives Trust and 4Louis.
Mark raised more than £3,000 running the Great North Run, while Anna is selling a unique yoga poster for toddlers online.
Their son Charlie was born at 31 weeks weighing just 2lbs 6oz after Anna suffered from eclampsia, a life-threatening condition for both mother and baby.
Charlie was delivered by emergency caesarean but at eight-days-old he contracted necrotising enterocolitis, a deadly disease that destroys the bowel and kills 50 per cent of babies who contract it.
Charlie underwent lifesaving surgery at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where doctors removed 27cm of his bowel. During his time in hospital, Mark and Anna were supported by The Sick Children’s Trust at their Crawford House.
Mark, 39, said: “Having to leave our tiny little boy every night was awful. Not being able to do anything to help him, or hold him made us feel like we were failing him.
“The Sick Children’s Trust gave us accommodation on the hospital site only two minutes from Charlie, and it had a direct phone line to the ward. We felt much better knowing that if anything changed we could be there in an instant.
“In Crawford House, we met parents going through similar ordeals and spoke about how we would help raise money for the charity if our children pulled through.”
Mark and Anna also chose 4Louis charity after this year losing their son Oliver, who was born at just 21 weeks due to major heart defects. 4Louis gave them a memory box for Oliver.
Mark added: “The Great North Run was a really emotional day, I cried more than once thinking of Charlie and Oliver and the wonderful charities that have been there for us during our hardest times.
“I am so pleased with my time considering I’ve been training on a cross trainer for four weeks. My legs feel broken but it was completely worth it. I would like to thank everyone for their support and words of encouragement.”
Anna, who cheered on her husband during the race along with Charlie also wanted to support the charities and has created a toddler yoga poster, which she is selling online.
Anna, 38, said: “Introducing yoga at an early age can help children learn healthy, happy lifestyle habits and help them to feel more focused and calm.
“It is also a great way to get them moving and having fun. Toddlers are prone to meltdowns too so yoga is a great way to explore these physical reactions.
“My poster is just an inspiration guide so I really want parents to be creative with it because it is never about the perfect pose, it is about calming down and having fun!
“I myself am a keen yogi and yoga really helped me through these dark times.
“Now Charlie is a lively little toddler and loves to do the yoga poses, we are just so lucky he fought back and made it.
“I really believe something was looking after us the day the doctors operated on him the first time because his chance of survival was so slim.
“I call the nurse who decided to call the doctor back to re-examine him ‘Charlie’s Angel’.
“Staying at Crawford House was a lifeline for us. It meant we were so close to our baby and our family could come and visit. It was so much more than just a place to stay, we really felt like it was a ‘Home from Home’.”
The Sick Children’s Trust runs ten ‘Homes from Home’ across the country, giving families with seriously ill children free accommodation just minutes from their child’s hospital bedside.
Crawford House Manager, Gail Stonley, said: “When I met Mark and Anna, it was touch and go with Charlie and they were sick with worry.
“I am so pleased we were able to offer them accommodation and the emotional support they desperately needed.
“Charlie is a beautiful little boy and seeing him in the yoga poses melts my heart.
“It is so fantastic that Anna has created this poster so that other toddlers can also enjoy the benefits of yoga and we are so grateful to both her and Mark for all the money they have raised for The Sick Children’s Trust.
“Their donation will go a long way towards helping families in the future with seriously ill children in hospital stay together.”
To buy Anna’s yoga poster and find out more information about Toddler Yoga visit www.toddleryoga.co.uk/
For further information about The Sick Children’s Trust, please visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org/