A DOTING father has been inspired by the early arrival of his baby daughter to take on an ambition of a lifetime.

Martin Butterworth, of Newton Aycliffe, will embark on the London Marathon to raise funds for the Tiny Lives Trust which supported his family when little Esther Rose was born three months prematurely.

He was motivated to accept the 26-mile challenge after seeing the struggles Esther Rose went through at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) - where she received life-saving care on the hospital’s neonatal unit, supported by Tiny Lives.

North Yorkshire-born Mr Butterworth said: “The London Marathon has always been an ambition of mine. I entered the ballot back in April of last year and little did I know the significance of what was about to follow. The arrival of Esther Rose in September and being successful in the ballot in October - which I think was fate - has only encouraged me to fulfil this challenge so I can give something back to all those who provided such amazing care and support over this tough time.”

A teacher at Greenfield Community College, Mr Butterworth and wife Ellie have another daughter, Evelyn, and had to juggle their lives considerably to fit around Esther Rose’s dramatic arrival.

The Tiny Lives Trust aims to help make the neonatal journey as comfortable as possible for both babies and parents at the RVI. The charity offers emotional support and financial assistance to parents, as well as supporting the neonatal unit with equipment, developmental aids and funds for staff training. It also funds several staff posts on the unit, including a neonatal physiotherapist and a psychologist, to support parental mental health.

“Tiny Lives, alongside the neonatal unit at the RVI in Newcastle, offered outstanding care to our little newborn,” added Mr Butterworth. “I believe this fantastic care and support is the fundamental reason for Esther Rose having such an amazing start to life. It allowed her to go from strength to strength at the beginning of her journey.”

Louise Carroll, of The Tiny Lives Trust, said: “We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing fundraisers.”

Mr Butterworth will also raise funds for The Sick Children’s Trust and BLISS in April. Donate at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MButt1