When the going gets tough…

A special charity provides Andrea with all the motivation she needs as she prepares for the Middlesbrough 10K


When training for the Asda Foundation Middlesbrough 10K gets tough and she thinks she can’t go on, Andrea Breckon remembers her reason for running.

The 42-year-old mother of twin boys is taking part on Sunday 1st September to raise money for Leo’s, one of the event’s partner charities, which supports families in the North East with sick and premature babies and the NHS staff who care for them.

It’s a charity close to her heart. In October 2015, following six IVF attempts over nine years, Andrea’s twins, Ted and Oscar, were born via emergency C-section at 28 weeks.

Each weighing less than 3lb, they were born and cared for at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital. Ted remained in hospital for eight-and-a-half weeks and Oscar for nine-and-a-half weeks.

Andrea, who lives in Middlesbrough, said: “The reason for their early birth was that I had strep B, a blood infection. This made me very unwell and I required two blood transfusions a day after their birth.

“It was eight hours before I met the boys for the first time, due to my own recovery and their need for early intervention. This was painstaking, waiting to see my new-born sons with no idea of their outcome.”

They spent a week in intensive care before being moved to the high dependency unit. Both babies required ventilation to help them breath and Oscar remained on oxygen for the first nine months of his life.

Andrea said: “Both boys have chronic lung disease, to what extent and how this will affect them long term we are still unsure.

“This is what pushes me to keep going when I think I can’t do it anymore, that I have nothing left, that I can’t breathe. When I’m out of breath panting and working hard, I think about Ted and Oscar and every other baby in neonatal care that requires breathing support. For me it’s 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes of my day, not every minute of every day for weeks, months, years - it makes me run for their lives.”

As a volunteer with Leo’s, Andrea is acutely aware of the excellent work the charity does including counselling, welcome boxes, staff training, peer support on neonatal units, playgroups and more. The team works across maternity, neonatal and paediatric services to offer continuity of care to those who have sick or premature babies. 

She said: “Leo’s requires vital funding to support families on their journeys and afterwards, which I why I have chosen this charity. It’s my way of giving back for the care and lives of my two sons.”

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