Fundraisers raise cash on Portsmouth charity walk

Toby Meredith (Media Porduction Manager, University of Portsmouth), Liz Hawes (Research Nurse, Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust), and Simon Toh (Consultant Surgeon, Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust)

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OVER 100 people raised nearly £20,000 in a 20-mile sponsored walk to buy vital equipment for a neo-natal ward.

The walkers hope to raise enough money to buy seven phototherapy lights, vital in the early days for treating babies with jaundice, for the unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

WALKERS 'Ickle Pickles charity walk leaves the QA Hospital. Centre in white t-shirts are Chris and Lorraine Blackburn who organised the event. Picture: Paul Jacobs  (13613-5)

WALKERS 'Ickle Pickles charity walk leaves the QA Hospital. Centre in white t-shirts are Chris and Lorraine Blackburn who organised the event. Picture: Paul Jacobs (13613-5)

The total raised already is £19,000.

This is the fourth year the Ickle Pickles event has taken place and is organised by Lorraine and her husband Chris Blackburn.

They started the walk after they lost their son Owen at just 12 weeks old.

He was born prematurely and was the first baby to be born at Queen Alexandra Hospital’s then new neo-natal unit in June, 2009.

Lorraine, 29, said: ‘When we see everyone together like this, it brings a tear to my eye. Knowing that we are helping other families and parents to have some time with their children is what keeps us going.

‘It gives them memories and you can’t take those memories away. That’s why this unit is so special.’

Chris said: ‘We started raising money on our own after losing Owen. We did the first walk from Butser Hill to Southsea with just a small group and we raised around £6,000. We were surprised because we only expected to raise about a thousand. Now it gets bigger and better each year. It’s great.’

Scores of people had signed up to the walk and among those were Scott and Rosanne Elliott, and their daughter Freya, who had been born six weeks premature.

The couple from Stamshaw raised over £300 between them.

Scott said: ‘Our daughter has been in the neo-natal unit. The staff are amazing and we wanted to give something back.’

Another walker was 14-year-old Alfie Seymour. His brother Reggie, now two, was born prematurely and spent time at the neo-natal unit.

Alfie said: ‘I’m walking because of Reggie. Without all the equipment at the hospital, then we wouldn’t have him.’

The walk took around eight hours.

The group passed through Eastney, Old Portsmouth, Gunwharf Quays, Commercial Road, Fratton and North End before finishing back at QA Hospital.

Ickle Pickes raises money to buy equipment for neo-natal units.

To donate visit justgiving.com/icklepickles/Donate.