Welwyn Garden City couple fundraise for baby unit following 'overwhelming love and support'

PUBLISHED: 11:33 26 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:33 26 August 2017

Ashley Clifford and Erika Mitchell with their son Lincoln Clifford. Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

Ashley Clifford and Erika Mitchell with their son Lincoln Clifford. Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

A Welwyn Garden City couple are fundraising for the baby unit that has cared for their premature son.

Erika Mitchell with her newborn son Lincoln, who was three months premature. Image supplied by Erika MitchellErika Mitchell with her newborn son Lincoln, who was three months premature. Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

Little Lincoln Clifford astonished everybody by arriving in the world three months earlier than expected on July 29.

Three weeks later, he has seen nearly every facility in the Lister Hospital’s neonatal unit, and is thriving in the hospital staff’s care. Now, his parents want to give something back.

“We were just massively overwhelmed by all the love and support we had from everyone at the neonatal unit,” Ashley Clifford, the father, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

“Once we’d seen that, we thought donating a few hundred pounds isn’t enough.

Baby Lincoln Mitchell was just two pounds eight ounces when born. Image supplied by Erika MitchellBaby Lincoln Mitchell was just two pounds eight ounces when born. Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

“They treated Lincoln as if he was one of their own.”

Ashley, who lives in the Knightsfield area with his wife Erika Mitchell, decided to put his running hobby to the test by signing up for not one, but two Tough Mudder challenges back to back on September 23 in order to raise money for the unit.

His JustGiving page has already gained over £4,000 of pledges - well beyond the original £2,000 target he set.

“It’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Ashley, 28.

Ashley Clifford, right, will run two Tough Mudders back-to-back to raise money for the Lister's neonatal ward. Image supplied by Erika MitchellAshley Clifford, right, will run two Tough Mudders back-to-back to raise money for the Lister's neonatal ward. Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

“It’s going to be gruelling, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Lincoln Clifford was due on October 25, and was born via emergency C-section two days after Erika’s waters broke.

Weighing just two pounds and eight ounces, he has needed round-the-clock care from Lister’s dedicated staff.

Normally, premature babies are transferred to Luton Hospital, but as he was strong for his tiny age, he wasn’t transferred.

Lincoln Clifford is thriving after round-the-clock care from the nurses at the Lister hospital. Image supplied by Erika MitchellLincoln Clifford is thriving after round-the-clock care from the nurses at the Lister hospital. Image supplied by Erika Mitchell

Since then he has beaten off an infection, has come off most of the breathing apparatus he was on and is having a scan for a heart murmur.

His parents are exhausted, but in good spirits.

“He is doing as well as can be expected, really,” said Erika, 30.

“I’m still a little bit in shock now,” she continued.

“We didn’t think we could have children, but I found out I was pregnant on my honeymoon.

“So I went from believing I was infertile to being a mother in five and a half months!”

The funds raised on Ashley’s run will be given to the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust Charitable fund.

According to Ashley, the money will go towards revamping some of the rooms and providing better parents’ facilities. “

Also, some of the equipment is getting slightly outdated and they need to get some new machines in,” said Ashley.

You can donate to Ashley, Erika and Lincoln’s JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/babylincolnneonatalcare

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