Vicky Meets'¦ Julie Oldman, fundraiser for St Richards Neonatal Unit

More familiar with whizzing around the keyboard than pounding the pavement, Chichester-based music teacher Julie is set to run the Bognor 10K for the Love Your Hospital Charity, raising money for St Richards Neonatal Unit.

Friday, 13th April 2018, 11:29 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:26 am

“Our son Isaac was born at twenty-six weeks weighing just 1lb 11ozs. He was delivered via emergency C section at QA hospital in Portsmouth and was very poorly,” said Julie, whose husband James is a teacher at Parklands Community Primary School.

Explaining that Isaac was later moved to St Richards Hospital, and that when they took him home seven weeks later he weighed just 5lbs, Julie and James will be forever grateful to the neonatal team.

“Without the outstanding medical care he received, and the emotional support that we all received in the early weeks, Isaac would not be the happy and thriving toddler he is now.”

Aiming to run 5K by 29 January, Isaac's actual birthday, and then 10K by 8 May when he should have been born, Julie will take part in the Bognor run on 20 May to confirm her goal, which she has christened ‘10K for 10 Tiny Toes.’

Explaining that the idea of running came initially from the grief and loss of a miscarriage, Julie said:

“I wanted to do something that made me feel strong. I’d never been a very sporty person but I started the ‘Couch to 5K’ programme. But then I discovered that I was pregnant with Isaac and so I stopped.”

Recently, however, following the diagnosis of an underactive thyroid, Julie started running once again – this time with renewed energy.

“I went on medication and suddenly it felt like someone had switched me on! I decided to use the time of year between Isaac’s actual birthday and when he should have been born to challenge myself.”

Admitting that this time she had gait analysis and invested in ‘proper’ trainers (“I spent my birthday money on them and it feels like running on air!”), Julie plans to continue running, inspired by her gorgeous little boy.

“He’s just started ‘big’ nursery and he faces challenges, but he absolutely loves it,” she said, beaming with pride. “But every time we go for developmental check-ups we are reminded that Isaac had such outstanding medical care and has overcome so much. They put him together physically and us together emotionally.”

Looking at pictures of new-born Isaac and comparing them with the bright and happy boy that he has become is an emotional experience, but it is also testimony to the dedication and expertise of the medics.

“The neonatal unit at St Richard’s is tucked away on the third floor but every day they are growing these teeny little people,” marvelled Julie. “But they have to fundraise for some of the equipment, including specialist incubators. Even in their free time nurses are knitting premature baby hats or jumping out of planes to raise money. We simply can’t give back enough for everything they did.”