Tiny Toes appeal fundraisers tackle Sheffield 10K

The parents of a baby born prematurely took part in the Run for All Sheffield 10K to raise money for Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity’s Tiny Toes appeal.

Richard, Ezrah, and Rochelle wearing their charity pink t-shirts and their medals

When little Ezrah Roberts was born five-and-a-half weeks early on 21 August 2022, he weighed just 5lb 8oz and needed round the clock care on the Neonatal Unit, also known as the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), at Rotherham Hospital.

To celebrate his first birthday, Ezrah’s parents Rochelle and Elliott, from Thorpe Hesley, wanted to fundraise to thank the dedicated staff who became Ezrah’s extended family while they cared for him.

They took part in the iconic road race on Sunday 24 September, with Ezrah cheering them on from the side lines. They have raised £520. 

Rochelle, 31, said: “I went into labour so quickly that we didn’t realise how poorly Ezrah was. He was whisked off to SCBU, where he stayed for 15 days. He was treated for sepsis, jaundice and needed oxygen and respiratory support. 

“I slept on a different ward for the first night and I was just so sad that I wasn’t with my baby like all the other mums. I just wanted to be close to Ezrah, to hold him and look after him. I was scared about holding such a small baby and dealing with the oxygen and feeding tubes. It was so difficult. I set my alarm to pump milk every three hours but it was strange not having him at home with us – it was heart-breaking and such a whirlwind.

“The staff on SCBU were amazing, so reassuring and supportive. They were all rooting for him and they made us feel involved in his care every step of the way. We felt so welcome on the unit and they became Ezrah’s extended family while he was there. 

“Now he’s fit and healthy, a cheeky boy who loves his food and is learning to walk and climb the stairs, even though he knows he shouldn’t!

“We wanted to take part in the Sheffield 10K to raise money for the Tiny Toes appeal to give something back to the unit and amazing staff who cared for Ezrah.”

Rochelle crossed the finish line in 50 minutes and 12 seconds and Elliott in 60 minutes and 39 seconds.

She added: “We both really enjoyed the run, especially because we we’re doing it for such a good cause. I think that’s what spurred us on to run our fastest ever pace.  Running for 50 minutes seems like nothing compared to the care and support Ezrah received and all the nurses who work tirelessly on their 12 hour shifts. I thought about them as I was running.

“The atmosphere was great. It was so lovely to see people lining the streets even though it was so wet. We’re really proud about the amount we have raised but no amount of money can repay the care they gave Ezrah.”

The charity’s Tiny Toes appeal was launched in August and aims to raise £150,000. 

The existing unit and its caring and compassionate staff are highly praised by families, but the facilities require upgrading to ensure their excellent standard of care can continue for generations to come.

The unit currently cares for an average of 14 babies at a time. There will be space for 16 babies once the unit is reconfigured. 

As the facilities are constantly used by parents, they are now worn and outdated. The unit was designed in the late 1970s and built 40 years ago. The Trust will completely refurbish the unit to future-proof it for generations to come, with the charity fundraising for the added extras.

The appeal will fund a complete overhaul of the existing family rooms, including repainting and soft furnishings, new furniture, modern showers and kitchen facilities. 

It will fund recliner chairs so parents can sleep beside their baby’s cot, a ‘wobble room’ for parents and staff who need time away from the ward, resources for siblings and keepsakes for parents.

Rochelle added: “I know how important the refurbishment of the ward is to staff and the impact it will have on families like us. It will make the unit feel more homely and modern.”

There’s still time to sponsor Rochelle and Elliott via JustGiving

Donations to the Tiny Toes appeal can be made in person at the Charity Hub in the main entrance at Rotherham Hospital, opposite Boots, via cheque or bank transfer or via JustGiving.

For more information contact Rachael Dawes or Suzanne Rutter in the charity team on 01709 426821 or email trft.rhcc@nhs.net.