Welwyn Garden City parents smash fundraising target in honour of premature baby

PUBLISHED: 11:35 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:43 24 October 2017

Ashley, Erika and Lincoln Clifford hand over more than £8,000 to the neonatal unit that looked after Lincoln. Photo: East & North Herts Hospital Charity

Ashley, Erika and Lincoln Clifford hand over more than £8,000 to the neonatal unit that looked after Lincoln. Photo: East & North Herts Hospital Charity

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The parents of a baby born three months prematurely have exceeded all expectations in fundraising for the Lister Hospital neonatal unit where he was born.

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

Baby Lincoln Clifford was born on 29 July, but his parents Erika and Ashley will no doubt be wishing him a very happy un-birthday this Wednesday, which was his official due date.

Erika and Lincoln were given extensive inpatient care in the hospital’s neonatal unit, inspiring Ashley to take on two Tough Mudder runs back-to-back on September 23 in aid of the East & North Herts Hospitals Charity, with a fundraising target of £2,000.

Ashley, who lives with his family in Welwyn Garden City, said in July: “We were just massively overwhelmed by all the love and support we had from everyone at the neonatal unit.”

The hospital was equally wowed when he brought in £8,233.96 instead, more than four times the amount.

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

Ashley said that his friends and Tough Mudder teammates Michael Chehade and Aziz Oyekan helped encourage more donations.

Ashley told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “It was really good, we did it in quite good time, the weather was great.

“It was quite daunting waiting for it!”

A spokesperson for the East & North Herts Hospitals Charity said: “The charity and unit are so grateful to Ashley for undertaking this gruelling challenge and for his incredible fundraising.

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

“The funds raised will be used towards extending the families lounge at the unit.

“The charity believe it vital to offer the best possible environment to families at what can be a difficult time and, through Ashley’s dedication, this ambitious project is a step closer to reality.”

Lincoln has been at home for several weeks and is now thriving.

Erika said: “It’s just been amazing having him home, I can’t really believe that he’s here.

“We didn’t think we could have children, so it’s a double miracle.”

And though looking after a premature baby while fundraising can only be exhausting, the family couldn’t be happier.

“Once you think you might have lost him, it makes the sleepless nights a little bit more bearable,” said Erika.

“I’ve loved every second of it.”

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