Taking the plunge to raise money for hospital baby unit

CHALLENGE Lorraine Blackburn, with friend Chris Pye and his wife Tammie. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122484-3026)
CHALLENGE Lorraine Blackburn, with friend Chris Pye and his wife Tammie. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122484-3026)

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BRAVE Lorraine Blackburn is taking the plunge in a bid to raise cash in memory of her three-month-old son Owen.

The 29-year-old will abseil down the Spinnaker Tower tomorrow alongside her husband Chris, in honour of their son.

It’s to raise money for the neo-natal unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, where Owen was looked after during his short life.

Lorraine, of Gordon Road, Waterlooville, has already raised thousands of pounds for the unit via charity Ickle Pickles – for which she is now an ambassador – and has convinced 37 others, including friends Chris and Tammie Pye, to take the plunge with her in aid of the cause.

She said: ‘I felt alright about it all until I had a drink down at Gunwharf Quays on Wednesday – when I looked up at it I felt sick.

‘It looks taller every time I see it. But I’m sure it will be fine once I get up there and the adrenaline kicks in.’

Funds raised will be used to buy a SIPAP machine for the unit, which is the next step down from a ventilator and allows a baby to breath more independently while still being assisted.

It costs £30,000 and the unit currently does not have one. It is hoped this challenge will raise around £5,000 towards the cost.

‘The unit gives us a wish list of things they need and this was one of the things on it,’ Lorraine added.

‘We don’t want them to get to the stage where they have to turn babies away because of lack of equipment so we try to do as much as we can to help them.’

Owen was the first baby to stay at the then newly-opened centre in June 2009. He weighed just 1lb 10oz.

He was transferred to two Southampton hospitals, to be treated for an eye disease and artery problems, but died in September 2009.

Lorraine and husband Chris are grateful to QA for giving them three precious months with their son.

‘We wouldn’t have had those three months with Owen if it wasn’t for the unit,’ Lorraine added.

‘We want to thank staff there for that by doing everything we can to help support the unit. And we want to try to make sure they have what they need to allow other families the chance to go home with their babies at the end of it all.’

To donate, text ICKL35 and the amount to 70070 or email lorraine@icklepickles.org.