A father whose baby daughter died just weeks after being born is giving back to the charity that supported him and his family in their time of need.

And Richard Stainthorpe, who is raising money for charity by completing the Cambridge half marathon, will be joined by brother Matt and friend Mike Timm.

The Sick Children’s Trust was able to provide all three fathers with support when their children were poorly.

Back in 2014, Richard and wife Donna, of Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, stayed at charity’s Acorn House – one of its ten "homes from home".

At the time, their three-week-old daughter, Imogen, was transferred from the paediatric intensive care unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, some 70 miles away.

Imogen needed specialist assessment and care and was unable to breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. She died three weeks later, but her parents remain incredibly thankful to the charity for providing them a place to stay free of charge, enabling them to remain close to their baby girl.

Eastern Daily Press: Richard Stainthorpe with his wife, Donna, and their baby daughter, Imogen, who died just weeks oldRichard Stainthorpe with his wife, Donna, and their baby daughter, Imogen, who died just weeks old (Image: Richard Stainthorpe)

Richard said: “I remember us arriving in Cambridge feeling such a vast array of emotions, knowing we needed to stay as close as we could to Imogen at all times.

“Travelling back and forth from Norwich simply wasn’t an option, so we were looking at nearby hotels or even considering renting somewhere close, neither of which we could afford but were willing to do if we had to.

“It was an extra layer of anxiety at a very difficult time, but one taken away by the Sick Children’s Trust.

“It was a huge relief for us, allowing us to focus all our energies on her while also having a place where we could look after ourselves, have a shower, wash our clothes, and have a bite to eat.

“Although the story did not have a happy ending, we remain eternally grateful to the charity, for giving us moments with Imogen that we might not have otherwise had.”

Mr Timm and wife Laura, also of Norfolk, have also been supported by the charity in recent years, with daughter Eleanor having made the same journey down the A11 to Cambridge, where they also stayed at Acorn House.

Two-year-old Eleanor is one of only five children in the world to have been identified with an ultra-rare condition called Osteo-Oto-Hepato-Enteric Syndrome, which caused the intestinal failure that resulted in her transfer to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for specialist care.

Mrs Timm said: “Although I was able to sleep beside Eleanor on the ward, Acorn House provided a place for me to wash Eleanor’s clothes, something I needed to do frequently due to her bowel condition.

“They also provided a room for us for the weekend so Mike and Eleanor’s sister Evie could visit, and we could all spend time together in a home environment away from the clinical, noisy ward. We spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching TV together, having a cuppa. It was just magical. It’s those normal things you miss while in hospital with your child.”

The three runners are preparing to run the scenic but challenging 13-mile course this Sunday (6 March). It is part of a year-long effort to raise thousands of pounds for the charity.

Richard will also be attempting the north Norfolk triathlon, the Nuclear Race – a 12-mile mud and obstacle course in Brentwood, Essex – and the Great North Run later this year.

More information about their fundraising can be found on the Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-stainthorpe3

The Sick Children’s Trust gives families with a seriously ill child in hospital a place to stay when they need it most. For further information, visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org