Dad to run marathon in memory of baby Tilly
30 March 2015
When Peter Newman runs the final miles of the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 12 April, he knows any physical discomfort will be nothing compared to the emotional agony of losing his first-born daughter, Tilly, in 2013.
Peter, 32, a PE and health and social care teacher at Basildon
Academies, is doing the 26-miler to say thank you for the care and
support he and wife Suzanne, 33, received at Southend Hospital. The
money will go to the hospital's new fetal medicine unit and bereavement
Staff and youngsters at the Wickford Avenue school also pledged
money raised from its charity week for the same cause - the total
so far has topped £300, with Peter's Just Giving Page amassing £740 taking
the overall total over the £1,000 mark.
Peter and Suzanne endured every parent-to-be's worst nightmare
in September 2013 when a scan at 33 weeks into the pregnancy
revealed there was no amniotic fluid around the baby. Doctors
suspected a condition called infantile polycystic kidney disease,
in which the kidneys grow at an abnormal rate at the expense of the
heart and lungs.
A second scan the following day at Kings College London, came to
the same sickening conclusion. The devastated couple were told
there was little hope of the baby surviving the pregnancy.
Three weeks later, on October 4, at 5.39pm, Suzanne, a policy
and engagement officer with Southend Council, supported by midwife
Amanda Cushing, gave birth to little Tilly.
"She was born sleeping and she was just incredibly beautiful,"
says Peter simply.
The couple were provided with a 'cold cot' which enabled them to
spend precious time and wake up with their daughter the following
day. That morning both sets of grandparents also visited, and later
that day she was blessed by a hospital chaplain.
"We needed that time to be able to sit down and talk to her,
hold her, take photographs," says Peter. "It didn't take the pain
away, but it brought us a bit of comfort, gave us memories of
Amanda also visited the couple in the post-natal days without
Tilly, and, at the couple's request, the hospital made all the
The funeral was held at Southend Crematorium exactly a month
after Tilly's birth. "As hard as running the marathon will be, it
will be easy compared to giving the reading. It was very
difficult," says Peter.
Within a few months, the couple, from Leigh, discovered to their
joy that Suzanne was pregnant once more. However, happiness was
laced with anxiety in case history repeated itself.
"We had lots of scans and a couple of extra ones when Suzanne
couldn't feel much movement," says Peter. "Mr Singh [Mr Mandeep
Singh, Southend Hospital's lead consultant in fetal medicine] was
so kind - he would always scan the kidneys straight away which put
our minds at rest.
"Everyone in the unit was fantastic - they looked after us so
well and were completely supportive."
Happily, the couple's daughter Sophia, was born without
complications in January and is thriving. As both parents have
discovered they carry a recessive gene for polycystic kidney
disease, there is a small chance that the might develop in early
childhood, but the couple remain hopeful.
Sophia's proud father is aiming to complete the April 12
marathon in four-and-a-half. He has the best motivation. "Tilly is
part our lives every day and is forever in our thoughts," he
School lends its support
Peter's fundraising was backed by the school, which held an
inventive charity week, incorporating such events as PlayStation
parties, Malteser Football, X Box Challenge, a mini marathon, a
cake sale, a hapless teacher having his nails painted, a head shave
and a 'Rap Battle' between two teachers.
"I have been overwhelmed by how many students have got involved
and how much money a few main events have raised," said Laura
Chapman, head of year 11 and the student voice team. "The hard work
has been worth every second and we hope to run a bigger and better
charity week next year."