A GRATEFUL dad has raised thousands of pounds on a 47-mile charity trek for the hospital which saved the lives of his wife and premature daughter.

John Keeble, 35, of Great Totham, decided to raise money for the Rosie Hospital, in Cambridge, by walking from Addenbrooke’s Hospital there back to his home.

John and wife Kelly, 35, were hoping to welcome their daughter Olivia into the world in the summer of 2020.

But almost a month after the initial lockdown, Kelly suffered a complications during her 25th week of pregnancy, losing 3.5 litres of blood.

Thanks to the efforts of maternity staff, Kelly was safe and little Olivia was born on April 14.

The tot was born 14 weeks premature and weighing less than 1kg.

She needed 16 minutes of resuscitation and required ventilation for two weeks, as well as suffering a significant bleed in the brain.

Olivia spent 113 days in hospital, with seven weeks at the Rosie, and nine at Broomfield.

At the beginning of April this year, John was dropped off at the hospital by brother-in-law Will and set off at 4am after weeks of planning.

John Keeble on his charity walk

John Keeble on his charity walk

After 12km on a Roman road, he did four more into Bartlow, where he met his support team at a checkpoint.

He then trekked nine more kilometres towards Hempstead before resting briefly and doing nine more past Great Sampford and Great Bardfield.

He went through Shalford Green before beginning to feel his energy levels dropping.

However, his determination pushed him to cross the A120, past Chelmsford City Racecourse, Terling and Witham.

In the final stretch, he arrived at Blue Mills bridge on the outskirts of Wickham Bishops, up the hill across Benton Hall golf course and into Wickham Bishops.

He was joined by his support team in the final kilometre and got a massive cheer from his neighbours as he arrived home after 16 hours and five minutes.

COMING HOME: John Keeble reaching the county boundary, and (inset) little Olivia

COMING HOME: John Keeble reaching the county boundary

John said: “Exhausted, emotional, sore, the list of adjectives goes on.

“A quick photo, a pat on the back from my brother-in-law, a kiss from my wife and daughters, in the shower, and then bed!

“The amazing work that the staff did and continue to do at the Rosie is invaluable saving many babies’ lives and supporting parents going through very challenging circumstances.

“We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been able to enjoy such a positive outcome, especially considering the very dark place at which we started.

“We hope by raising money for the Rosie, other parents are able to enjoy similar positive outcomes too.

Olivia Keeble smiling

Olivia Keeble smiling

“I suffered one uncomfortable day, my wife several more, but our little girl had to fight for weeks, and it is her strength that kept me going for 47 miles.”

He has managed to raise almost £3,500. To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/olivia-keeble.