When a mum of three puts her best foot forward for the Bupa Great North Run, her “very special boy” will be on her mind.
Friends Victoria Bull and Eleanor Sherwin are members of Bourne Town Harriers.
On September 7 they will join more than 55,000 runners for the 13.1 mile race at Newcastle and raise money for two chosen charities - Meningitis Now and Rainbows Children’s Hospices.
Victoria, 37, and husband Billy, of Broadway Close, Bourne, were horrified when their seven-and-a-half-month old son Lewis was diagnosed with Pneumococcal Meningitis.
Victoria said: “He was at Peterborough hospital and seemed to be getting better at first, then his condition deteriorated. He started having fits and they said he had a stroke.”
Lewis was transferred to Addenbrooke’s hospital, in Cambridge, and put on a life support machine while tests were done as well as an MRI scan to check for brain damage.
Victoria said: “We didn’t know how he would be (when he woke up). It was the worst days ever.”
Two days later when he came round Lewis had improved and after spending another 10 days in hospital he was sent home.
There was no recurrence of the fits but more tests a month later confirmed his hearing had deteriorated.
Victoria, a child care assistant at Building Blocks Kindergarten, in Bourne, said: “We had to keep taking him back again and again as his hearing got worse and worse. After various tests and a CT scan it was decided he should have a cochlear implant fitted.”
Lewis had two cochlear implants and grommets fitted over the months and still has a slight speech delay.
Lewis, now aged three, and was “a bit of a surprise” for the couple, who have two older children Charlotte, 17 and Jessica, 15, has been attending nursery and is “catching up pretty quickly” on his slow speech.
Victoria said: “It has been horrendous: a constant worry. We nearly lost him. We never expected this would happen to us but it did and it knocked us for six. But we are a strong unit. He had to go through so much. We are very proud of him. He is a very special boy.”
Now Victoria wants to raise money and highlight the work of Meningitis Now, the charity that funds research into the killer disease, raises awareness and provides support.
Eleanor will raise money for the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People - the charity provides care for young people with life-limiting or terminal conditions in East Midlands.
Along with three other colleagues she covers Lincolnshire providing respite, and end of life, care for families with children up to the age of 19 who have terminal illnesses.
A health care support worker for the palliative care team at United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust, Eleanor, 42, of Edenham Road, Hanthorpe, works with the Children’s Community Nursing team.
She said: “I feel privileged and honoured to do what I do. I can be with a family, probably, for three to four years so you get to know them well. Obviously it is emotionally tough, which is why I run. It’s difficult, but I love my job.
“We follow the family through the journey: from diagnosis to end of life. We also provide respite care so the families can have a break.
“Many of the families we support from Rutland and Lincolnshire use the amazing services at Rainbows Hospices.
“I am aiming to raise a little bit of money to give something back as a thank you for the children, young people and families which I have had the pleasure of supporting, and in memory of the little and big people who are no longer with us.”