'Trek for Jack'

'Trek for Jack'

Guest Blogger: Sarah Houlding

Our first baby, Jack, was born on 19 October 1994 but sadly we only had our lovely son for a short while. He passed away on November 22 1994 after spending five weeks (his whole life), at Guy’s Hospital in London, after being born with a heart defect called Aortic Stenosis. This meant he had to undergo open heart surgery twice as well as other procedures. Eventually it was all too much for our poor baby and he died in our arms after we had made the agonising decision to turn off his life support machine when the doctors could do no more.

During this time we stayed just round the corner from the hospital in a large building called Ronald McDonald House, completely free of charge. This meant we could spend every day with Jack, time that turned out to be precious as we had so little of it to spend with him. The House gave us a place to laugh, cry and grieve; our own room with a direct phone line to the ward Jack was on, and space to come to terms with it all. There were washing machines, cooking facilities and for families with other children, a huge playroom. A real ‘home from home’.

When Jack passed away we raised several thousand pounds, most of which bought a cardiac machine for the children’s intensive care ward. We did donate a small amount to Ronald McDonald House, but nowhere near enough to make up for everything they did for us.

In 2013 Jack would have been 18, and we think about him and miss him every day. To mark Jack’s 18th birthday, and to satisfy my need to always challenge myself, my daughter Rebecca and I took part in ‘Trek for Jack’. Our Trek took place in July 2013, 11 days in Tanzania, walking the height of over 3,000 metres. It will always remain with me as an amazing experience, and for Rebecca it has confirmed her wish to travel and see the world.  To share it with her and for it to be in memory of Jack has been very special.

We have raised in excess of £11,300 for Ronald McDonald House at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ in memory of Jack, more than we could have ever dreamed of when we started.

So thank you everyone for making it possible for us to achieve what we have by supporting our fundraising, helping with events and with all your good wishes.

Sarah and Rebecca Houlding

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