Superheroes take to the street

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An event which sees hundreds of ‘superheroes’ take to the streets hopes to raise £60,000 
this year. Catherine Scott reports.

This June more than 1,000 people will take to the streets of Sheffield dressed as superheroes.

Halley Nikolak and Laura with baby Luca. Picture Scott Merrylees

Halley Nikolak and Laura with baby Luca. Picture Scott Merrylees

No, it’s not for student Rag Week, it is to raise funds to help improve the care and treatment of babies and their families at the Jessop Wing, in Sheffield.

Around 8,000 babies are born each year at the maternity unit, which includes caring for around 900 critically-ill and premature babies in one of the largest and most specialised Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the country.

The hospital supports thousands of families each year from not just Sheffield, but the whole of Yorkshire and the rest of the UK, through all stages of pregnancy, from conception to care after birth.

In the last four years Sheffield Hospitals Charity has raised more than £90k through a sponsored 2.5k family walk, buggy push, toddler or trike, which two years ago was relaunched as Jessops Superheroes.

.L-R Aaron Miller and Laura with baby James and Halley Nikolak and Laura with baby Luca. Picture Scott Merrylees

.L-R Aaron Miller and Laura with baby James and Halley Nikolak and Laura with baby Luca. Picture Scott Merrylees

“In 2013 some mums that had babies on the unit organised a sponsored buggy push in Rother Valley Country Park and raised £1,000 for the unit,” explains Fiona Parkasam, community fund-raiser for Sheffield Hospital Charity.

“The charity was inspired and organised the first Jessops Buggy Push in 2014. Then in 2016 we thought someone came up with the superhero idea as all the staff who work in the unit are superheroes.”

The plan had been to change the theme every year, but the success of the superhero theme, which last year saw 650 men, women, children and even babies take part and raise £40,000, meant that it stuck and the event renamed Jessops Superheroes.

This June organisers hope 1,000 people will don their superhero costumes, capes and bibs are provided, and raise £60,000 for the Jessops Wing and hit £150,000 since the first event five years ago.

Two mums who know first-hand the life saving care offered at the Jessops Wing are Laura Nikolak and Laura Burn and they are the first to sign up for the 2018 event.

Laura’s son Luca – who is now four months old – was born more than seven weeks early at the Jessop Wing, weighing less than 4lbs.

“At 32 plus five days my waters broke,” explains, Laura, 33, from Fulwood.

“I had several examinations and a steroid injection to help develop Luca’s lungs. I only had intermittent contractions so I was admitted as we hoped that I wouldn’t go into established labour for a few days. 

“During the night I was having contractions every 10 minutes and Luca started to get distressed. He had a low heart rate, so I needed an emergency caesarean section. Soon after, I was under a general anaesthetic and the surgical team delivered Luca.

“Luca only weighed 3lb 11oz. I was worried, sad, overwhelmed and apprehensive about what condition he was in, but I trusted he was in safe hands.

“The nurse running the high dependency unit arranged for my bed to be transported to Luca’s room. Seeing him in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was daunting, but she reassured me that he was in the best place he could be.

“A month later Luca was granted early discharge. He is growing, developing and getting stronger each day. I’m very grateful to the team for the care they provided to Luca and my family. I had complete trust that the team would provide my little one the best care possible.” 

It’s not just premature babies who benefit from the specialist equipment and knowledge of staff at the Jessop Wing.

 Laura Burn, 30, from Hoyland gave birth to her second child, James, in August last year via elective caesarean section. James was born full term at 39 weeks and three days, weighing a healthy 7lb 11oz, however it soon became apparent that James had breathing difficulties, and so was rushed to Sheffield’s maternity hospital for treatment.

“James was making a grunting noise straight after he was born and his chest was moving really fast. He was put straight in an incubator and had an oxygen tube fitted to help him breathe. My partner, Aaron (Miller), and me were really worried and upset. Aaron stayed strong for me and James, but I know he was really upset inside.

 “As the day progressed he started to deteriorate more and the day after he was much worse. The consultant then had discussions with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Jessop Wing, where he was immediately transferred.

 “After further tests, including X-rays, blood tests and two lumbar punctures, he was given treatment for pneumonia and suspected sepsis. Every day he got better and better. He started being fed via a tube and eventually we could feed him via a bottle once he was able to come off the oxygen. After a week, James was well enough to be transferred back to Barnsley Hospital, before he was able to come home.

“We couldn’t have been happier with how we all were treated by the wonderful staff at the Jessop Wing.

“We were told absolutely everything that was being done and any questions we did have were answered straight away. Staff also helped me with my postnatal care.

 “James is now doing really well and is a bright happy, smiley little six-month-old boy.”

This year’s Superheroes event, promises to be bigger and better than the last, and all involved are encouraged to wear superhero costumes to celebrate the NHS heroes who save the lives of Sheffield’s tiniest patients each day.

To raise funds to help improve the care and treatment of babies and their families at the Jessop Wing, Sheffield Hospitals Charity are hosting their fifth annual fundraising event, which has now raised more than £90k in the last four years.

This year’s event, promises to be bigger and better than the last, and all involved are encouraged to wear superhero costumes to celebrate the NHS heroes who care for and save the lives of Sheffield’s tiniest patients each day.

Jessops Superheroes (formerly Jessops Buggy Push) takes place on Sunday June 10 at Graves Park at 10.30am.

There is a £15 minimum sponsorship for all who take part.

All who take part will be given a free superhero bib or cape.

Each member of your hero squad should aim to raise £15 minimum sponsorship to take part, including babies and children. For more information, or to register, visit wwwsheffield hospitalscharity.org.uk/superheroes email charity@shct.nhs.uk or call 0114 226 7351.