The landlord of a city centre pub is taking on a 15-day Himalayas trek to raise money for the Liverpool hospital that has been treating his baby daughter.Advertisement
Andrew Forster, who owns the Wellington Inn on Glover’s Court, wants to raise money to say thank you to Alder Hey Children’s Charity for caring for his 11 month old daughter Jemima.
Andrew said: “When Jemima was around three weeks old we noticed a swelling on the side of her head. We took her to the doctor and were referred to Royal Preston Hospital, where a scan revealed the swelling was a tumorous growth.
“From there we were referred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. After further investigations Jemima was diagnosed with a Hemangioma benign tumour. While it wasn’t cancerous, the doctors were concerned the tumour may be connected to her brain. She was so tiny that her skull hadn’t formed properly, and it was difficult to ascertain if it was attached.”
Read more: Preston couple fundraising to help son battle rare form of cancer
Jemima was too young to undergo an operation, so she was placed on medication as an in-patient at Alder Hey.
Andrew continued: “Because Jemima was so young the doctors were concerned about the medication, which is similar to beta blockers and designed to lower her blood pressure. The tumour is connected to blood vessels, which is how it grows, so she was medicated with a view to shrinking the tumour.
“Every four weeks we went back to Alder Hey where they would up the dosage and keep Jemima in to make sure there were no bad reactions. Then we would bring her home and medicate her every eight hours. The side effects included night terrors, which are awful.
“When Jemima was about 10 months old she was weaned off the medication. We had a week when the tumour wasn’t there, but then it came back overnight. We were devastated. Because it came back, Jemima had to go on to stronger medication, with even worse side effects.
“Now we’re booked in to see additional specialists, and we’re hoping as the tumour has shrunk that Jemima will be weaned off the medication again. We don’t know if it will come back. They will do further scans to see if the tumour is attached to her brain. Hopefully a plastic surgeon will be able to remove the tumour and the scar will be covered by her hair.”
Despite undergoing medical treatment at such an early age, Jemima is popular with Andrew’s customers at the pub.
Andrew said: “Jemima doesn’t know any different. She’s sweet and smiley, and developing like any normal baby. We’re lucky in terms of support – my mother-in-law lives with us, and we’re really close with family and friends. She often comes in the pub, so lots of our customers know her and they all love her to bits.
“We don’t pay for Jemima’s treatment at Alder Hey, so we wanted to say thank you by raising money for them. Because it’s a children’s hospital it’s the most upsetting place. There are so many terminally ill children there, and the doctors and nurses do so much for them. I don’t know how they go to work every day.
“We’ve been so worried, we thought it was the end of the world. They are so kind and helpful, and always spend the time to reassure us, even though they’ve got a thousand things to do. The service is above and beyond. They emphasise that your child is the most precious thing in the world. We can’t thank them enough for everything they have done.”
Read more: Penwortham man to run 100 mile ultra-marathon for children’s charities
Andrew wanted to do something special to raise money and looked at numerous ideas before settling on his Himalayas challenge.
He said: “On Friday 28 September I’ll fly via India to Kathmandu in Nepal, before flying on to the world’s most dangerous airport at Lukla. It’s a tiny airstrip, where due to the altitude the air is so thin that there are more crashes there than anywhere on the planet.
“We’ll be trekking for around 8-10 hours every day. We’ll get to Everest Base Camp and from there climb Kala Patthar, which is 5,500 metres above sea level. It’s one of the biggest peaks in the Himalayas, and slightly higher than Mount Kilimanjaro. Apparently we’ll get fantastic views of the summit of Everest before trekking back down. All being well, with no altitude sickness or injury, we’ll get back to Kathmandu on Monday 15 October and fly home the following day.
“I was an Infantryman in the Armed Forces, and I’ve done a lot of mountainous stuff in the UK. My training has included runs and long treks with weight in my backpack. I’ve also been altitude training with a hypoxic mask, which looks a bit ridiculous in Avenham Park! I’ve used the setting for 6,000 metres and it is a bit panicky trying to get my breath.
“I’m nervous though as it’s quite dangerous due to the lack of oxygen – there will be banging headaches, and even when you’re asleep your heart is racing. My wife Naomi is worried about the challenge, but I’m so determined to do it. So far I’ve raised about £1,500 but I would love to get to £3,000.”
To donate to Andrew’s fundraising for Alder Hey, visit Just Giving.