Friday, May 24, 2024

Basildon Hospital’s London Marathon runners getting ready for big race!

A MOTHER and son team and a retired consultant are running the London Marathon on April 24, to raise money for Basildon University Hospital’s charity, the Polly Parrot appeal.

Joanne and Matthew Blacker are in training for the 26.2 mile event in gratitude for the care given to their grandson and nephew, Oliver Blacker. They are first-time contenders, fulfilling a long-held ambition to run the London Marathon and hoping to raise nearly £5,000 for the hospital’s charitable fund.

Joanne explains why: “On 5 November 2014 my grandson Oliver was born at Basildon Hospital. His mum Vikki is type 1 diabetic and Oliver had to be delivered seven weeks early. He spent eight days in the neonatal intensive care unit, then went home, but a month later was rushed back to hospital with breathing difficulties.

“He received the best treatment and care from the staff. My son James, Oliver’s dad, and Vikki were also given fantastic care and support.

“Over the next few months Oliver was in and out of Basildon Hospital with breathing problems. He has since undergone surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital and is on the road to full recovery.

“Without Basildon Hospital’s quick thinking, care, love and support I could be telling a different story.”

She added: “This time last year I couldn’t run from one lamp post to the next. We said from the start we’d run together but I don’t mind if Matt goes off without me; he’s a lot younger and fitter than me!”

Matthew said: “We can’t tell you how grateful we are to the doctors, nurses and all the staff, particularly in the children’s ward. Mum and I want to run the London Marathon for the hospital’s Polly Parrot Appeal to help save the lives of children like Oliver.”

Also pounding the streets of London for the Polly Parrot Appeal is veteran runner, Dr Eric Watts.

Eric spent 21 years Basildon University Hospital, as a consultant haematologist and later also as clinical director.

He was diagnosed with cancer when he was 12 years old and is fund-raising to improve cancer treatment for children at Basildon Hospital.

He said: “I am grateful to be alive, but my treatment involved being away from home, friends and school for much of three years.

“Family life was disrupted by long journeys to city centre hospitals and most children and youngsters with cancer have a similar story. This can be reduced by having centres in local hospitals, visited by specialists, to give as much treatment as near to home as possible.

“For local families it means going to nearby Basildon Hospital and not having to struggle up to London repeatedly; especially when you’re not feeling well.”

To support Eric Watts’ fundraising, go to

To support Jo and Matt’s fundraising, go to

and ENDS


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