'We had no idea' - Sunderland grandad's incredible gesture which took his family by surprise

He surprised his family by fundraising in an amazing way
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A Sunderland grandad has said thank you in style to the charity which helped his courageous grandson.

Derek Haynes was determined to help Down’s Syndrome North East.

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Marco battled through it all with a smile on his face

They had given so much support to his grandson Marco, now 20 months, who has spent half of his life in hospital.

Grandad and grandson together.Grandad and grandson together.
Grandad and grandson together.

Derek wrote a book about the workers who died while they helped build ships in Sunderland, and he is selling copies at £4.99 each for the charity.

‘Never seen a baby that small’

He said: “The charity was an easy choice to make as we just can not thank them enough for the support they have given the family.”

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Mum Kirsty said he was ‘a little fighter. I have never seen a baby that small. He was tiny’.

His first 90 days were spent in hospital

Marco Haynes who has spent half his life in hospital.Marco Haynes who has spent half his life in hospital.
Marco Haynes who has spent half his life in hospital.

He spent the first 90 days of his life on intensive care at Sunderland Royal Hospital where the neo natal staff provided 'fantastic care', said his mum Kirsty Haynes, 35.

Mum Kirsty Haynes with her son Marco.Mum Kirsty Haynes with her son Marco.
Mum Kirsty Haynes with her son Marco.

Marco was 3lb 5ozs when he eventually left hospital. He was still two weeks short of the day he was due to be born.

It was his first chance to be at home with his loving family which also includes dad Michael Haynes, 37, Marco's sister Ivy-rae, 3, and brother Hayden, 16.

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Grandad’s book was a total surprise

He was only at home for a fortnight before he was back on the ward.

Trips to hospital have followed every few weeks.

Michael said: “It came as a surprise that my dad had written this book, never mind as he'd never even mentioned writing it let alone giving all the proceeds to charity.

“It is a charity that is so close to our hearts as they have supported us as a family so much, especially when we got Marco's Down's syndrome diagnosis when he had his stay in neonatal.

“It's a lovely gesture.”

The front cover of Derek's new book.The front cover of Derek's new book.
The front cover of Derek's new book.

Marco is still battling

Marco's battles have also included;

Chronic lung disease.

Suffering from sepsis.

Twice contracting Covid-19.

Contracting Influenza A.

Contracting Influenza B.

His lungs collapsed and he fought for life.

Marco has four holes in his heart.

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Tribute to the tragic ship builders

He spends each night on a ventilator with a C-pap mask on his face as his airways are obstructed.

And he spends each day attached to an oxygen supply.

Marco is also one of the children who was chosen to benefit from fundraising by Sunderland women Maureen Thompson.

Maureen Thompson who has fundraised for fantastic causes for years.Maureen Thompson who has fundraised for fantastic causes for years.
Maureen Thompson who has fundraised for fantastic causes for years.

‘They should be remembered’

Derek’s book is the culmination of 18 years of research.

He said: “There are numerous records of the ships that were built in Sunderland, but when I started the research I was unable to find any records concerning those who were killed while building these ships.

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“I felt that these people some of who lost their lives in tragic circumstances should be remembered.”

The book is called ‘The Shipyard Lads. Shipbuilding Deaths in Sunderland 1830-1984’.

Copies are available from Derek by emailing [email protected], from Sunderland Antiquarian Society and Sunderland Museum.

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