A father who had two children born prematurely is to run the Great North Run for the charity that supported his family through the ordeal.
Liam and Vicky Barrett’s son James was born at 32 weeks and spent 10 days on a ventilator before his parents could hold him.
A year later their daughter Emily was born even earlier - at 28 weeks.
Both children survived and Liam has signed up to run the Great North Run to raise funds for Bliss, the charity for premature and special babies.
“My son was born at 32 weeks and my daughter at 28 weeks,” said Liam, 25, from Chester-le-Street. “This time in your life is the most special and overwhelming time you will ever experience however when a premature baby is involved things can change very quickly.
“We were overwhelmed with the support provided by the hospital but most importantly from Bliss.
“Bliss were there throughout and I can’t thank them enough. In hospital, when you have a premature baby you’re given a Bliss pack with information, and they provide support for parents of children in the neonatal unit.
“You can just call and speak to them, and there is always a positive person on the other end of the phone. And they also have people on site who you can talk to, which is a massive help.
“Without them myself, my wife and also family members would have found it very hard to face such a hard time.
“I want to raise as much money as possible as every penny can go towards helping keep this amazing charity going and continue helping families just like they did for me and my family.”
The energy consultant, who works for Utilitywise in South Shields - whose daughter eventually had to undergo surgery for a hole in the heart at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital - will be among 56,000 runners lining up at the start line who could find themselves catapulted into the public eye as the Great North Run’s millionth finisher. This will be the first time I’ve run the Great North Run and I’ve lost five stone through training since January.”