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Parents paddle 200km in aid of Wexham Park Hospital's neonatal unit

A husband and wife paddled 200km along the River Thames to raise money for Wexham Park Hospital’s neonatal unit.

Dan and Steph Gillespie, of Vansittart Road, Windsor, decided to take on the challenge after the hospital helped them through the ‘traumatic’ premature birth of their first child Freya.

In May last year, Steph was admitted to hospital just 27 weeks into her pregnancy after experiencing severe bleeding.

Her condition deteriorated and she soon developed severe pre-eclampsia and the potentially life-threatening HELLP syndrome.

Dan, who is assistant headteacher at Claires Court Junior Boys in Maidenhead, said: “We were just completely taken aback by the level of skill, care and expertise on show the whole time we were in hospital.

“We wanted to try and do something to show how much we appreciated that.”

During their ordeal, Dan and Steph stayed in the neonatal unit’s parent rooms for two weeks which gave them a space to rest as newborn Freya received treatment.

The pair want to pay for new beds for the unit to help parents going through similar experiences.

Dan added: “The whole process is so traumatic and if you can normalise it in some way it makes it less stressful.

“We have been extremely lucky thanks to the work of everyone that looked after her.”

The couple set off on their challenge from the source of the River Thames, in The Cotswolds, on Saturday, August 25.

Standing atop their paddleboards, they powered through the water for seven hours a day before passing the finish line at the Windsor and Eton Bridge five days later.

So far they have raised £5,685, almost double their initial target.

Money raised will also go towards Action Medical Research’s Saving Tiny Lives project which aims to understand the causes and treatments of premature births.

Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dan-and-steph to donate.

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