THE first child to be cared for at Zoe’s Place is about to embark on an open water swim with her mother to raise money for the baby hospice which changed both their lives.

Within the first two years of Emily Chubb’s life she underwent several operations which resulted in her being fed through a gastrostomy and requiring a tracheostomy to maintain her airway.

She developed a condition which meant her heart stopped beating several times each day and she was often poorly with chest infections.

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She became the first youngster to be looked after at Zoe’s Place in Middlesbrough which offered her family, who live in the town, much-needed respite care and support until she was five.

Now 13 and discharged from all medical care, Emily and mum, Joanne, have signed up for the Great London Swim taking place next Saturday, August 30.

A keen swimmer, Emily is hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Middlesbrough Amateur Swimming Club member, Aimee Willmott, and reach the Olympics.

Her mum took part in London 2012 by carrying the Olympic torch in recognition of her career change from being a design engineer to a paediatric nurse.

She now cares for critically ill babies on the same unit at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, which treated her desperately sick daughter.

Having taken part in the Great East Swim at Alton Water just weeks after having a tumour removed from her leg, Emily is aiming to raise £300 and complete the challenging half-mile open water course at Millwall Dock in under 20 minutes.

“As a child Emily had her airway reconstructed and once was under the care of five different hospitals across the country,” said Mrs Chubb, 41. “We never dared hope we would reach this point. She is now a normal, stroppy teenager,” she added fondly.

Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in Middlesbrough provides palliative, respite and end-of-life care to babies and infants aged from birth to five years old suffering from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

“Zoe’s Place gave us the opportunity to spend time with our son, Bradley, who was then five,” Mrs Chubb added.

“This was a very difficult time for both Em and us as a family, and through the support we received from the wonderful staff at Zoe’s Place we were able to maintain an element of normality and relax knowing that Em was being cared for in a pleasant, safe and caring environment.”

"I know I will never be able to say ‘thank you’ enough for all they did for us.”

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