Abseiling dad says thanks to doctors

Steve Hale with partner Alison Clark and their son Austin
Steve Hale with partner Alison Clark and their son Austin

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MESSAGES of thanks come in all shapes and sizes. But how do you praise a team of medics who saved your baby boy from certain death?

That was the tricky question that daring dad Steven Hale believes he has the answer to – abseiling down one of Portsmouth’s tallest buildings.

The 40-year-old from Hilsea is set to descend down Spinnaker Tower next month all to raise cash for Southampton hospital’s specialised paediatric intensive care unit.

Doctors and nurses from the unit were instrumental in saving the life of his little lad Austin almost a year ago.

The tiny tot was barely a day old when he was rushed from Queen Alexandra Hospital to Southampton in need of an emergency operation to fix his weakened heart.

Brave Austin endured a total of 20 hours in theatre over just two days before spending the next couple of weeks in the PICU.

Since then he has had two further open heart surgeries, his last just a couple of weeks ago.

Steven, of Amberley Road, said: ‘They were absolutely fantastic. They got us through the hardest time of our lives.

‘It’s incredible what they do there and the costs of everything is phenomenal.’

So far, Steven has raised £1,750 for the hospital. But he hopes with the public’s support, he can reach £2,500.

His abseil down the 100m structure is on July 2 – five days before Austin’s first birthday.

He will be tackling the challenge with five of his friends, Courtney Channon, of Marchwood, Michael Buckley, of Havant, Paul Lang, of Hedge End, John West and Dave Bachelor, both of Portsmouth.

Steven added that he was ‘nervous and excited’ about the charity fundraiser.

‘Every time I drive into the city and see the Spinnaker Tower I think, “Bloody hell, what am I doing?!”. I must be crazy,’ he said.

Austin suffers from a heart defect which will need long-term treatment. Steven, who will be cheered on by his partner Alison Clark, 29, added his son would be in and out of hospital every six months.

‘He is genuinely one of the happiest smiley little babies you will ever see,’ he said.

PICU is south’s leading intensive care unit. It has 14 purpose-built beds and cares for children from birth up to 18.

It looks after about 1,000 young critically-ill young people every year and is the sixth busiest PICU in the UK.

To donate to Steven’s effort, see mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/austinhale17