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Every 50K step will be a huge thank you to Alder Hey

2 months ago

Every 50K step will be a huge thank you to Alder Hey
Jude and his family in the Matalan X Alder Hey Campaign

It was son Jude who was in the spotlight after becoming an ambassador for the Matalan X Alder Hey ‘PJs’ Campaign last year.

But now it’s Rebecca Marchant who’s stepping in – and stepping up! –  after pledging to do 50K for Alder Hey in its Children’s Charity’s first ever virtual challenge.

“I’m not a fitness fan at all so it is a little bit daunting,” says mum-of-four Rebecca. “But we have always said, ever since we came under the care of Alder Hey, that we would do anything we could to support the hospital and raise awareness.

Jude Marchant with mum Rebecca
Jude Marchant with mum Rebecca

“Without Alder Hey we have no idea what Jude’s future would have been, but it’s looking bright and positive thanks to everyone there.

“We could never thank them enough for what they’ve done for us, there just aren’t words…”

So Rebecca is going to let her feet do the talking, and walking, instead.

“You can choose any way you want to do the 50km throughout March and I’m planning to do the majority of it walking a couple of miles a day – I think Jude might join me on his scooter – and, for me, every step I take will be a huge thank you,” adds Rebecca.

Jude Marchant
Jude Marchant

Jude Marchant’s giggling face won over hearts when he became a poster boy for the hospital as part of the 2023 Matalan campaign.

But just two years earlier there were few smiles when the youngster was born with a rare birth condition, craniosynostosis. It causes the bones in the skull to join together too early so it grows in an unusual shape, and it can create pressure on the brain.

Although the family lives in York – Jude is the youngest of four siblings with sisters Evie, 17 and Lilly, 16, and brother Ollie, nine – and the two-year-old was at first referred to a different hospital, Rebecca had other ideas.

“When we first got the suspected diagnosis I went into fight mode,” she admits. “I found a support group on Facebook which led me to a WhatsApp group where I learned that if I wanted the best for my son, there were four main centres which could treat his condition and two of which offered endoscopic treatment and helmet therapy – one of them Alder Hey.

Jude Marchant
Jude Marchant

“I emailed the hospital and got referred by my GP.  I said it was my choice, and as his mum, that was what I wanted.”

Jude got his first appointment at Alder Hey in July 2021 and in August that year, at five months old, he underwent surgery to correct his head shape before completing 51 weeks of helmet therapy to ensure it stayed and grew in the right, natural shape.

The minimally invasive procedure took around two hours with surgeons making a small incision in Jude’s scalp, then removing part of the skull that had fused (in Jude’s case this was the Metopic suture – the suture that separates the two frontal bones in the middle of a child’s forehead). If it had been left any later, it would have required more major surgery.

Rebecca, who’s married to golf professional Nick, 35, goes on: “Jude now is just your typical, boisterous nearly-three-year-old, which is amazing.

Jude Marchant
Jude Marchant

“We’ll stay under the care of Alder Hey until Jude is 15, and he’ll have yearly eye checks and checks to make sure there is no pressure on his brain.

“We’ll return to see the cranio team and neurosurgeons every so often, and the speech therapy team after Jude was diagnosed with speech delay linked to his condition.”

Not surprisingly, Rebecca says: “Liverpool is like a second home to us and it will always hold such a special place in our hearts and lives – just like Alder Hey will.

“They didn’t know what was wrong with Jude at first, and the possible diagnoses went from Down’s Syndrome to it being the skull condition. It was really hard to enjoy those first early months, and being in that new baby bubble, but the care, treatment and communication from Alder Hey made it possible, for all of us in our family. 

Jude Marchant
Jude Marchant

“Even asking if Jude wanted to be an ambassador for the Matalan campaign, and that something so wonderful could come from it, meant so much.

“That’s why, if me doing 50K for March can raise any funds and awareness for this amazing place, it’s nothing.”

And she vows: “This will be the first of many things our family is going to do after we decided to do something every year to show just how grateful we are.”

Anyone interested in taking on the challenge, can go to Alder Children Children’s Charity’s Facebook page to register their interest and fill in the form to secure their place.

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