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Josh takes on tough charity challenge

Josh pictured with mum Debbie, girlfriend Paisley and dad Liam.
Josh pictured with mum Debbie, girlfriend Paisley and dad Liam.

A Whitby man who spent much of his childhood in  hospital is taking on the Yorkshire Tough Mudder to thank a charity which helped him and his family.

Josh Ventress, 26, was born with bilateral upper limb deformity and for 18 years underwent treatment and numerous operations at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds – 70 miles away from his family home in Whitby.

Josh on the way back from hospital after an admission

Josh on the way back from hospital after an admission

Throughout his treatment at St James’s, Josh’s parents, Debbie and Liam Ventress, were supported by The Sick Children’s Trust, which runs free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation for families with seriously ill children in hospital.

Debbie and Liam were supported at the charity’s Eckersley House, now based at Leeds General Infirmary, throughout his treatment.

Now Josh is hoping to raise £350, through a JustGiving page, for The Sick Children’s Trust by completing the Tough Mudder challenge on July 29.

Josh said: “I still suffer from constant pain but don’t undergo any treatment.

Josh spent the majority of his youth attending a hospital miles away from home for specialist treatment

Josh spent the majority of his youth attending a hospital miles away from home for specialist treatment

“I chose to do Tough Mudder just because it looks fun and for me it will be a challenge. My friend asked me would I fancy it so I signed up immediately so I had to do it.”

Josh’s mum, Deb, said: “We’re so proud of Josh – nothing ever bothers him. My mother’s instinct is telling me not to watch him take on the Tough Mudder but someone’s got to be there to take him to casualty after!

“I’m so thrilled that he’s doing this for The Sick Children’s Trust, it really means a lot to us all that he wants to thank the charity for what they did for our family.”

Josh, an Army Welfare Worker who now lives in York, says: “My parents had no idea I would be born with this bilateral upper limb deformity, so I think it came as a shock. I was only a few months old when I was transferred to Leeds for my first operation and that’s when they found out about Eckersley House.

Josh has undergone numerous operations and procedures to help with his mobility

Josh has undergone numerous operations and procedures to help with his mobility

“The charity supported them with free accommodation when I was admitted to St James’s from then onwards which allowed them to be with me, for which I’ll always be grateful.

“When I was younger, I was in the hospital for long stays often undergoing operations or having rotations to increase my mobility. By the time I was a teenager, I wanted to be in and out as quick as possible – I was always trying to get off the ward! A huge comfort throughout all this time though was knowing that my parents were close by if I needed them. Hospital for a child is a daunting place, and it was always so reassuring to know that my mum could stay later on weeknights as she wasn’t rushing home.

“I can’t thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough for the support it gave me and my parents. That’s why I’m hoping to raise £350 so that the charity can be a ‘Home from Home’ for another family with a child in hospital.”

The accommodation that was offered to Josh’s parents meant that his parents could remain by their son’s hospital bedside, instead of driving back to their home in Westbourne Road.

Josh’s mum, says: “When we knew Josh was going to be transferred to Leeds, I was soon told that there was accommodation which was free and available to me. I still remember the relief I felt at those words. It meant that I didn’t have to leave Josh alone in hospital.

“Over the years, Josh was in and out of Leeds and for the majority of our visits I would be supported at Eckersley House. The last thing you want to do when your child is in hospital is leave them at night, drive 90 minutes home and then wake up and drive for another 90 minutes back to the hospital. You want to be there when they close their eyes and open them again. And that’s what Eckersley House allowed me to do. Be there by my son’s side.

“When the lights were turned off on his ward, I would go back to Eckersley House and sit in the living room and watch television with other families who were in a similar situation to me. I even met a couple from Whitby whose daughter was on the ward. It was nice just to be able to chat and relax in a safe and secure place.

“My husband Liam would come and stay on the weekends with me and on summer days, when Josh was allowed off the ward, we would enjoy a picnic in the garden area with him. We have lovely memories of that time.”

Since opening in 1993, Eckersley House has supported over 11,000 families with children undergoing treatment at either St James’s Hospital or Leeds General Infirmary. This year, the ‘Home from Home’ is celebrating 25 years of supporting families with free accommodation, just minutes from their loved one’s hospital bedside.

Eckersley House Manager, Jane McHale, says: “We’re delighted to hear about Josh’s fundraising mission for The Sick Children’s Trust. We’re sure that he will absolutely love completing the challenge he has set himself!”

Sponsor Josh at http://www.justgiving.com/Josh-Ventress