Parents of twin babies who nearly died raise thousands for NHS with sponsored walk

Twins Martha and Betty, who nearly died of bronchiolitis, are now a year old. Credit: ITV News

The parents of twin babies who nearly died after they were born have raised thousands of pounds for the NHS by walking from the Cumberland Infirmary to the RVI in Newcastle.

Simon and Megan Richardson’s daughters Martha and Betty, received care at both hospitals after developing a cough and sniffle three weeks after they were born.

The family, who live near Dalston outside Carlisle, are walking from Carlisle to Newcastle, a distance of 111km over Hadrian’s Wall, to raise cash for the Children’s Ward at the Cumberland Infirmary and the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation.

This weekend is the first anniversary of them being admitted to hospital.

Simon and Megan Richardson and their friends will walk the 111km from the Cumberland Infirmary to the RVI in Newcastle. Credit: ITV News

Megan said: “Martha eventually stopped feeding and it was decided both our girls should be admitted to the Children’s Ward at the Cumberland Infirmary. Over the weekend both of them were put on oxygen and fed by a tube and we were told they had bronchiolitis.

“This virus creates a lot of sticky mucus which drips onto your lungs, making it incredibly difficult to breathe. Four days into our stay - and given that Betty was only 4lb 14oz at birth - her lungs were incredibly small and she started to really struggle. Essentially her lungs just could not supply the oxygen her body needed and the NHS had to act."

“Betty was intubated at Carlisle and with a Doctor using a bag to breathe for her we waited for NECTAR (North East and Cumbria Transport and Retrieval Team) – this unbelievable service is a retrieval service for children who need specialist care. They sent over a paediatric consultant and specialist nurse from the Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to ensure that Betty had the best care possible in her transfer over to the RVI. It had everything they needed for an intubated baby – essentially it was a mobile ventilator.

“Betty then spent 11 heart wrenching days on a ventilator on PICU at the RVI. This was a whole new world of learning for us as we watched, helpless, as doctors and nurses took over her care. She had tubes, needles and wires everywhere. All this time Martha was still in the Cumberland Infirmary, still incredibly poorly.

The twins began to improve after four weeks of intensive treatment.

The twins' grandmother Edith McColgan added: “Betty most definitely would not have survived without the lifesaving equipment at the RVI and the care they both received at Carlisle was incredible. We owe everything to the nursing staff at these hospitals and thanks to their support I have two beautiful perfect granddaughters. I will forever be in their debt.”

Simon Richardson says he's eternally grateful to the two hospitals for saving his daughters Martha and Betty Credit: ITV News

Claire Moore, matron for women and children’s services at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust said: “We are delighted that Simon and Megan are supporting the ward in this way, we are extremely grateful for their kindness. Our staff are very dedicated and we are very humbled that Simon and Megan have chosen to say thank you to us in this way."

Simon and Megan set off with their friends and family from the Cumberland infirmary at 6am on Saturday 28th May and are due to arrive at the RVI in Newcastle on Monday 30th May.

So far they have raised more than £5000, but aim to reach £6000.