By Katrina Cliffe
After an initial healthy pregnancy I visited the hospital at 19 weeks knowing something wasn’t quite right. I could feel the membranes bulging and I was immediately admitted. An emergency stitch was planned for the following day when the consultant was on duty. Unfortunately the stitch didn’t work and my waters burst… a week later Casey was born too soon at 20 weeks. June 3 2014 should have been our son Casey’s tenth birthday.
In the ten years since we've had two daughters and we strongly believe that it is Tommy's research that has enabled us to bring them home safely. One was born seven weeks premature with the assistance of a cervical stitch. The other got to full term, again with a stitch, and progesterone, which Tommy's researchers were testing as a treatment, and I had twice a week from week 13 of my pregnancy.
Tommy's research enabled us to bring our daughters home safely
Tommy’s has been like an extension of our family over these last ten years. We feel that they have lived our experiences with us and we have always been keen to do whatever we possibly can to raise money for Tommy’s and to to raise their profile too.
This year we wanted to significantly mark the milestone that was our son’s tenth birthday and help even more parents get to take home their babies. When I spotted that the European Car Rally, Scumrun, was raising money on behalf of Tommy’s, I immediately made my husband John sign up – even if it meant I would be home along with our crazy daughters for the best part of five days!
Roping in the support
Taking part in something such as the Scumrun has always been a dream of John’s and the fact it was being held in the tenth year since Casey’s birth and for Tommy’s seemed like it was meant for us.
John roped his dad, Richard and close friend, Mike into taking part. There were times in the lead up to the event when I wished we had never even bothered especially when trying to find a car – what a nightmare! However, we persevered and pledged to raise £2,004 – 2004 being the year Casey was born. This felt like a real long shot but we hoped that people would be generous considering the milestone. The early days of fundraising were difficult, only receiving the odd donation here and there but nothing substantial. In the last couple of months we approached local businesses about sponsoring the car in exchange for a sticker placed upon it and managed to drum up a good amount of support this way.
Our eldest daughter, Stevie, held a fundraising day at her school, which raised just short of £100. The nursery that our youngest daughter, Jaime, attends supported us as well and held raffles and fun day activities to help us reach our target.
Pushing for first place
It then came to the time of the actual event. By this point we were within the top ten fundraisers and were desperate to get into the top five. We were checking the total numerous times a day to see where we were – we even had tabs on the other fundraisers!
John and the team then set off to take part. John did a speech at the start explaining his reasons for undertaking the challenge and what it meant to both him, myself and other families. I wasn’t there but I hear it was quite emotional. They set off around Europe and he has admitted it was one of the most exhausting experiences of his life but at the same time one of the most amazing. The teams, people who have never met and who are from different walks of life really came together to do all they could to raise as much as possible for Tommy’s. It was an emotional time for John and something he proudly looks back on.
During the return home, the top three fundraisers were announced. Casey’s Crew was now in third place. With another month to go we pushed every single opportunity we could to raise the amount raised in memory of our son even further. This included getting friends to donate unwanted clothes, holding afternoon teas and much more.
A month later came the deciding moment…. Casey’s Crew was in FIRST PLACE having raised a grand total of £6,236! We were blown away. We had raised three times what we set out to achieve.
Achieving this amount spurred us on and we have decided to raise £10,000 before Casey’s next birthday. There are challenges in this itself, I am taking part in a 10k, after whiplash injuries, chest infections and various other issues but I am determined to do it. Donations are currently around £600 so there is still some way to go to reach our £10k target, but we will get there.
John enjoyed his Scumrun experience so much he is doing it again next year – they’ve already bought the car!
If there is only one thing you take away from reading my story and Lukas’s, please take away 'hope'.
We've kept the eye mask he wore, to remind us of everything he made it through.
"I hope our story gives couples some reassurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel because after 9 miscarriages we have our miracle on the way"
Born weighing less than a bag of sugar over twenty-one years ago, Harriet has come a long way to today, in her final year of University, writing her dissertation on premature infants.