Running the London Marathon

I’m not sure if you have already heard, but I have finally been accepted to run the London Marathon on 22 April. I have been applying for the last four years and this time have been fortunate enough to be given a ballot place. This means that I can choose my own charity to run for and have decided on one that is very close to my heart – The Friends of the Special Nursery a charity for Aberdeen Maternity Hospital’s Neo-Natal Unit. They were formed in 1984 initially to buy an incubator and create parent and child facilities. This escalated and by 1988 they had raised over £1m towards the building of the current 36 bed Neo-Natal Unit. The charity continues to raise funds to provide state-of-the-art equipment such as a new CFAM machine used to monitor brain activity. Further information on The Friends of the Special Nursery can be obtained from their website www.specialnursery.org.

The Unit played such a vital role in our lives when Nathan and Harry were born in August 2004. Most of my family and friends have heard about, or lived through the drama of my pregnancy and the early arrival of Nathan and Harry at 33 weeks. We already expected they were likely to arrive early; and we were prepared for the possibility of their having to spend some time in the special nursery as early on in my pregnancy they had developed TTTS (twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome). But we never dreamt just how much we would come to depend on the support of the Neo-Natal Unit.

The day after the boys were born, Nathan was transferred by helicopter to Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow having been diagnosed with pulmonary artesia (a form of congenital heart disease in which the pulmonary valve does not open properly – the pulmonary valve is an opening on the right side of the heart that regulates blood flow to the lungs).

Robbie and I had to leave Harry in the care of Aberdeen Neo-Natal and head to Glasgow to be near Nathan when he had a procedure on his pulmonary valve to improve the blood flow in his heart. Thankfully he improved dramatically and returned to Aberdeen Neo-Natal three weeks later.

During these three weeks I stayed in Glasgow at Ronald MacDonald House (another great support) while Robbie returned to Aberdeen to check-in on Harry who was getting stronger by the day and was able to leave hospital by the time he was four weeks old. Nathan also continued to get stronger and we were delighted when he was ready to come home just a few days short of his due date in October.

Nathan has annual check-ups and in the meantime does not need any further treatment. Both boys are fit, well and very active. They like going to school, playing with their friends and enjoy football, golf and table tennis. They are keen Dons’ supporters and have been season ticket holders for the last couple of years which keeps them busy on a Saturday afternoon (and gives me more training time).

I know that we are just one of many families that owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Hospital’s Neo-Natal Unit. I am also very aware that without the help of The Friends of the Special Nursery the Unit could not have provided the level of care and support that my family received in 2004. It is to help ensure that this support continues for future families that I have chosen The Friends of the Special Nursery as my charity to raise funds for whilst running the London Marathon.

If you would like to make a donation to this worthy cause, there are two ways to do this:, either online via my Virgin Giving webpage [details to be included] or by using the attached sponsorship form paying by cash or cheque made payable to “Friends of the Special Nursery”, I would be very very grateful for anything – no matter how small.

Thank you, and I will be thinking of you while I am pounding the streets of Aberdeen and London in my size 8½ trainers (no heels). I am working through my training plan (not just the nutrition guide) and am fortunate to have an excellent running partner (also running the Marathon) and we encourage each other on our long Sunday morning runs.

Julie xx

Harry and Nathan