Dad cycles from Germany to raise cash for unit that saved son's life
A FATHER helped raise £27,000 in support of the hospital unit he credits with saving his son's life.
Steve Fox cycled 750 miles from Germany to Southmead Hospital to raise the money for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where his son Rupert spent two weeks after his birth in 2011. The youngster has Down's syndrome and needed support after he was born because a valve in his heart had not shut properly.
His mother Bonny stayed with her son during those two weeks but yesterday the Clevedon family returned to the unit to see the incubator and monitor that was purchased as a result of the fundraising.
Mr Fox, 33, said: "The technology, the nursing and the doctors, everything in NICU was absolutely brilliant.
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"It was extremely tough. We have got two older children and Bonny spent two weeks living away from home, and it was very stressful.
"We had a new baby who was very poorly. That experience inspired me to give someone else the opportunities we had."
At the time Mr Fox, an engineer, worked for German firm Draeger, who make incubators, although for a different division of the company.
"Incubators and anything to do with hospitals was completely alien to me then," he said.
When he considered fundraising challenges for the unit a cycle ride from the company's headquarters in Luebeck, Germany, seemed perfect for him and friend Chris Byrne.
And the company matched their funding so an incubator and monitor could be purchased for the NICU.
The pair cycled about 100 miles a day camping overnight.
Mr Fox said: "Everyone tells you Holland is flat but we felt all the hills. Coming through continental Europe was quite enjoyable, as it is set up for cyclists."
Mr Fox and Mr Byrne were welcomed back to Bristol by their families and NICU staff.
"It was fantastic to go back in yesterday to show off Rupert," Mr Fox said. "He's a bonny little boy and really doing well.
"To see the consultant, Gill the ward matron and some of the nurses was fantastic, as well as seeing the actual incubator going into service. That was the best feeling."
NICU matron Gill Taylor said: "We are really grateful to Steve and Chris for raising the money for a new incubator and Draeger for providing us with the funds to buy the new monitor – they will make such a difference to the care we can offer premature and poorly babies at Southmead."