A couple whose grandson won his fight for life after he was born prematurely will scale a mountain in a show of support for a charity which helps families like theirs.
Michelle and Darrell Talbott, from Grindon, will tackle Mount Toubkal, in the Atlas Mountains, in September as they raise funds for Bliss.
It comes after Thomas Drayton was born at 25 weeks, weighing 1lb 15oz, and spent the first eight months in hospital care after he suffered lung and chest problems.
Now almost three, the Silksworth youngster still has a tracheostomy and his speech is affected as his speaking valve has been damaged, but is otherwise a thriving and lively toddler.
Retail worker Michelle, 44, who is mum to Thomas’s dad Christopher, 26, Adam, 24, and James, 20, and husband Darrell, 48, an energy consultant, are also planning a fundraising night as they plan their trek.
Michelle, who was unable to hold Thomas until he was eight months old because of the specialist care he needed, said: “Bliss supports the families of premature babies and when Thomas was born, we realised there was support for the babies, but not much for families.
He’s an absolutely lovely, gorgeous little boy and we wouldn’t change him for the world.Michelle Talbott
“He’s an absolutely lovely, gorgeous little boy and we wouldn’t change him for the world.
“He’s running around like any two-year-old would be.”
Thomas was treated in several North East hospitals, including Sunderland Royal, after his mum and Christopher’s fiancée Lucy Durrant, 28, went into labour early.
His grandparents will travel to Morroco on September 24 and will spend five days trekking 10 hours a day as they climb the mountain, which is 3,000ft above sea level.
They are hoping to raise £5,000 through their efforts.
Michelle added: “We want to raise as much as possible.
“Just £10 can help can help pay for essential information for families, £25 can provide emotional support for a family.
“We could have raised money for babies like Thomas, but this way we’ll be able to help lots of babies’ families nationally.
“Thomas is lucky, as he has very strong parents who are brilliant at looking after him and his medical needs, but as a family we know how hard it has been and will continue to be for some time yet.”
The Talbott’s will host a charity night on Friday, May 13, from 7pm at Grindon Club in Gregory Road.
Tickets are £10, which includes a buffet and performances by an acapella group, a solo singer and a late disco.
They also plan a raffle and hope businesses and backers will add to the list of prizes.
They already include tickets to be in the audience for a recording of Alan Carr’s Chatty Man Channel 4 show and a DVD by the comedian, a £100 voucher for a portrait session at David Lawson’s photographic studio and a bracelet from Collinson’s jewellers.
The page set up to collect funds for the campaign has already hit £300.
Bliss works with parents if they have been told their baby is likely to be born early, signposting them to advice and offering details on how to stay healthy and cope with the news.
It offers details on care offered in baby units, medical procedures, conditions, feeding, information about visiting and multiple births.
It continues to help people when they head home with their baby, with tips on transporting youngsters and preparations which can help when getting ready to make the move, and details on development milestones, schools and pointers which can help those with disabled children.
The Talbott’s fundraising page can be found via www.justgiving.com/michelle-talbott.
More details about the work of Bliss are available through its website, www.bliss.org.uk.