A dedicated Hailsham dad will be strapping on his running shoes and pounding the streets of London to raise money for poorly babies after his son was diagnosed with a life threatening illness.
Little Luke Taplin was born with neonatal meningitis - a condition which causes inflammation of the protective membranes of the central nervous system.
Luke was born in 2006 at Eastbourne Hospital after a normal full term pregnancy but after routine checks the condition was discovered which can cause serious illness or even death.
Luke was transferred to Chertsey Hospital as Eastbourne hospital did not have an intensive care unit for babies.
Doctors said Luke was extremely poorly, and his parents were given the earth shattering news that he may not make it. But thankfully, Luke fought on and responded to medication. After three weeks in hospital, he was finally able to go home with his parents.
His dad Gareth said he is now seven years old, and is a happy, healthy little boy who loves life. He described the relief of taking his baby son home and thanked charity Bliss for supporting his family.
He said: “I can’t describe the relief we felt when we were told he was going to be OK.
“We are so thankful that he has had no real problems since his illness. We are also thankful for the help we received from Bliss in the transfer between hospitals, and their support during a very traumatic time. The specialist at Chertsey Hospital recognised that the fast transfer and treatment of Luke were so important to his recovery.”
Gareth has been inspired to run the London marathon on April 13 by Luke, to say thank you to Bliss .
Gareth said: “Luke watched the marathon with me last year, and we saw many people running for various charities that are close to their hearts.
“My wife and I have always supported Bliss since Luke was born, and always donate money to them at Christmas. I feel that this isn’t enough and I want to do more.
“I have never run a marathon but I am confident that the distance will be completed in a respectable time and I am confident that I can raise some money for Bliss.”
Amy Rodwell, Bliss running events officer, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to him; he will be helping us continue to support families who are going through what is one of the most difficult times imaginable, having a baby who is seriously ill.”
To donate to Gareth’s fundraising efforts visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/GarethTaplin