More than �1,100 raised for Norwich neo-natal unit

Wet and windy weather failed to deter two friends from completing a 20 mile walk to raise funds for a cause close to their hearts.

With only torches for light, Carol Meekings, from Harleston, alongside friend Hazel Chase, left Pulham Market at 6.45am on Saturday with the aim of reaching the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital by the end of the afternoon.

Despite heavy rain downpours and three changes of clothes, they arrived at the hospital's door at 3pm and were personally congratulated on their efforts by chairman David Prior.

The pair had organised the adventurous walk to raise cash for the hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit where Mrs Meekings' 10-month-old grandson Thomas Cooperthwaite, spent the first three months of his life.

The youngster, who came into the world weighing just 2lb 4oz, has undergone numerous blood transfusions and trips to the operating theatre for a gastrostomy and colostomy, which was then later reversed, in an attempt to treat bowel problems and infections.

The little fighter, from Long Stratton, then spent another six months on the hospital's Buxton children's ward before his parents were finally able to take him home.

Mrs Meekings, 57, said the support provided by the doctors and nurses had prompted her family to raise as much money for the hospital as possible. The weekend's sponsored walk has so far raked in about �610 but sponsorship is still pouring in.

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Thomas' other grandmother Wendy Cooperthwaite, from Essex, also completed a 20 mile walk on Saturday along the coast near Frinton-on-Sea which has raised at least �500.

Mrs Meekings thanked everyone who had donated money.

'The weather was horrible but we did it. We're so thrilled and I'm very, very pleased with myself,' she said. 'The nurses really appreciated what we had done.'

Her family intend to organise another fundraising event next year for the Buxton ward.

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