An IT engineer from Redcar has gone the extra mile for a charity very close to his heart and has raised over £1400 thanks to generous donations.
Robert Whitehouse, who has worked for Stagecoach North East on supporting its IT services across the north east for the last 15 years, decided to run his first major race since he was a teenager and signed up for this year’s Redcar Half Marathon.
The inspiration for attempting the gruelling 13 mile race was to raise around £500 for the South Tees Hospital Neonatal Special Care Unit, which Robert and his wife Claire have much praise for thanks to their support five years ago.
Robert explains: “I'm a dad who knows exactly what parents of the babies that need this unit go through and I'd like the Neonatal Unit at James Cook Hospital to be able to carry on helping others in the future, so I decided to run in the Redcar Half Marathon.
“Nearly five years ago our daughter, to our shock and surprise, was born eight weeks premature and weighed just 4lb 11oz. She was our first born and after her birth she was immediately taken from us and whisked off to the Neonatal unit. We were terrified but we needn't have been, as the care that she received in those first 25 days of her life that she spent there was truly incredible. It was the hardest time of our entire lives but was made as bearable as it could be by each and every one of the outstanding staff that helped us and our tiny baby. So I swore I would try to help them one day and give something back.”
Despite not running for years, Robert had a great race and managed an amazing time of 1 hour 54 minutes, coming 517 out of 926. After setting up a Just Giving page, Robert has been overwhelmed with the response, with a current total of £1436.54 including a £100 donation from Stagecoach North East, smashing his goal of £500.
Robert added: “During the race, the crowds were fantastic, urging all runners on and providing little treats and sweets for a little energy boost along the way, which really helped me to carry on. I would like to thank everyone who has donated for their support, it is so much appreciated. Every penny is so precious for buying big and expensive things like equipment and machinery, to the small but just as important things, like blankets, nappies, bottles, clothing, tubes and syringes to feed the babies... the list goes on. It all helps the Neonatal Unit to carry on with the remarkable work that they do when it comes to caring for sick and premature babies and their parents.”
Lynne Paterson, nurse consultant at the neonatal unit in The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, said: “We are so very grateful to all those who fundraise for the unit and it is especially heart-warming to hear back from the parents whose babies we’ve cared for, it means a lot to all the staff.
“Robert has done such an amazingly good job of training and running the Redcar half marathon. Several members of our NICU team did the Great North Run a couple of years ago and so we know just how much commitment this takes. But to also raise so much money on the way is outstanding.
“The money will be put to good use either on equipment or to help make the journey for our parents that bit more bearable, be it cards for mothers’ and fathers’ days or Christmas presents for those babies not able to be at home with their families; we will spend it wisely. Everyone on the unit would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert, his family and everyone who sponsored him on this huge achievement, we really appreciate it.”
Nathan Stanislawski, Operations Manager at Stagecoach North East’s depot in Stockton, said: “We are very proud of Robert at the depot and all the team were delighted to support him in his challenge. Fundraising is really important to our team and we are always keen to help. Robert has raised an incredible amount for such a great charity and can be justly proud of his achievement.”