Ben Moorhouse will be taking on a herculean 150-mile non-stop extreme challenge walk this weekend.
Ben, 38, from Halifax, flies off tomorrow to he Greek Island where, on Saturday he will attempt to walk around the entire island without stopping in the height of summer.
“I know it is a really extreme challenge and I am putting myself in severe danger by doing it but it is something I have to do.”
What drives Ben on is the memory of his baby daughter who was stillborn.
“On October 26 2018 our daughter Kallipateira was stillborn just two weeks before her due date,” recalls Ben.
“As I held Kallipateira in my arms I made her a promise that I would do her proud and continue her legacy by helping to support other parents who have experienced the death of a baby/babies , and also to help save babies’ lives. This challenge is all about a father love for his daughter. It is all about love.”
Ben and partner Gaynor Thompson channelled their grief into raising thousands of pounds towards a new maternity bereavement suite at Calderdale Royal to give parents a much needed place to spend time with their babies.
For their efforts during difficult times they won the Calderdale Community Spirit award for Best Fundraising Campaign and they are also nominated in three categories for the Yorkshire Choice Awards.
No stranger to fund-raising and extreme challenges, Ben knows what he is in for as he has already walked around the full island, but spread over two days, to raise money for The Steve Prescott Foundation.
“This time I will be looking to break all records and go above and beyond all I have done before by walking around the full island of Rhodes in one go with no sleep or rest,” says Ben. “Last time I was broken – and I had a night’s sleep – I couldn’t walk afterwards so walking 150 mile non-stop at the hottest and most humid time of the summer in one go is really putting me in danger. This distance is the equivalent of six full marathons in 48 hours or less without stopping.”
After the death of their daughter, Ben’s partner Gaynor experienced a miscarriage in May 2019, nine weeks into the pregnancy.
They knew if they wanted to have the best chance of another child with a better outcome, they must be cared for by Professor Alexander Heazell of the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic and Research Centre in Manchester.
And on May 23 last year Gaynor gave birth to their rainbow baby boy Apollon in Manchester.
“Even before we decided to try for another baby, Prof Heazell discovered that Gaynor had a problem with her placenta that was causing miscarriage and still birth and she had to take medication to give the baby the best possible chance. We travelled every two weeks for scans in Manchester but then at 35 weeks Gaynor started to bleed. I was on a training walk and had to rush home and then get a taxi over to Manchester which was so hard as we have to drive past Calderdale Hospital. Even as I watched my son being born I couldn’t believe he was going to be okay after everything we had been through.
“Apollon survived due to the love and specialist care from Professor Heazell and his team. We hadn’t even bought anything for the baby – we just daren’t. I had to rush out to Marks and Spencer to buy premature baby clothes for him,” says Ben.
“We decided to tell nobody – not even our family – that we were expecting another baby. We did not want people saying congratulations or asking us how things were. Lockdown helped us a great deal to keep the pregnancy under wraps especially in the last trimester. We know how cruel life can be.”
Apollon Alexandros Moorhouse was born on May 23 in Manchester, weighing four pounds, eight ounces.
“Apollon is an original name for the Greek God that means god of the rainbow, light, medicine, prophecy and music,” explains Ben. “His middle name Alexandros is in honour of Professor Alexander Heazel. In Greek this name means protector of men.”
In fact they didn’t tell anyone about their son’s arrival until a week after they were able to take him home.
“It was still lockdown and so we decided to Facebook both our mums at the same time and just said we had something to show them and showed them Apollon – they were surprised to say the least. Apollon is not a replacement for the baby we lost. We still grieve every day for our daughter and I just hope that he continues the legacy she has left.”
Ben has set himself a target of £20,000 for the extreme challenge walk and he will be accompanied by his support team of Gaynor and driver Jason Croft. Ben has been training in all weathers and his biggest sacrifice has been not seeing Apollon on weekends due to training.
“It does not matter how much training I do as I will go to places both mentally and physically that you cannot train for.
“What will get me through when the going gets tough are the reasons why – my daughter who I know will be with me every step of the way and where the funds are going to Professor Heazell and his team to help save babies lives nationally. I will have to go through hell to complete this extreme challenge walk and I just hope the UK public will support me to reach the £20,000.”
Ben has so far managed to raise only 15 per cent of his, but hope that talking about their story will see more people supporting him.
“Please don’t just read this and move on, please help us save the lives of other babies as it can happen to anyone. This research will help save lives.”
For more information on the Ben and Gaynor’s charity visit www.kmfoundation.co.uk