10 days of fundraising for Elsie

In October, Naomi Sheikh and her husband Janay marked the first birthday of their late daughter, Elsie, taking on a huge challenge in her memory and raising more than £2,500 for us.

Elsie was born with a congenital heart defect and sadly died when she was only 10 days old.

Soon after Elsie’s death, Janay decided to mark her birthdays and anniversaries each year with 10 days of fundraising. This year, supported by friends and family, Naomi and Janay ran 10 kilometres each day, culminating in a poignant journey from Elsie’s grave at Durrington Cemetery to Chestnut Tree House, where the family spent Elsie’s last hours together.

“Training was definitely a saving grace for us this year,” says Naomi. “It helped get us out of the house and encouraged us to run with other people who wanted to support us.

“Elsie was given a little wooden cross at her dedication. She is buried with it and at her funeral, the person who gifted that to her gave us another one. Every day we would run holding that cross. She was our motivation, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise.”

Elsie was born at Southampton Hospital and spent much of her life in intensive care. After extensive tests, hospital staff suggested the family think about transferring to a hospice. The family brought Elsie to Chestnut Tree House in an ambulance and spent a special day together, introducing their daughter to friends and family at a dedication ceremony before Elsie died that evening. “It was very, very poignant and special for us to be able to bring Elsie into West Sussex,” says Naomi. “The outdoors is a very important part of my family life and Chestnut Tree House, being nestled in the most gorgeous West Sussex woodlands, felt perfect, really.”

Naomi and Janay wanted to sponsor one of the rooms at Chestnut Tree House, Hedgehog Suite, where they spent Elsie’s last hours. Their ‘10 days for Elsie’ running challenge raised more than £2,500 for the charity – more than enough to give two children a day and night of care and support in the Hedgehog Suite at the hospice. They also raised funds for Friends of PICU, a charity that supports the paediatric intensive care unit at Southampton Hospital.

Naomi says: “Elsie’s bravery, resilience and courage in the face of all she endured continues to inspire us every day. The phenomenal support of the CTH team has been a lifeline. It is an honour and a privilege for us to have done this for them, and for our beautiful little Elsie.”

Image of a group of fundraisers at Chestnut Tree House

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