A CUPPA and a chat was all Lindsey Holden needed to feel normal during her turbulent neonatal journey after her twins were born 16 weeks early.

Now, the inspirational mother is fundraising for the charity Leo’s which supported her during a 110 day neonatal stay earlier this year.

Mrs Holden, head of geography at Teesdale School, in Barnard Castle, and her ‘adventure’ friend Tanya will be tackling the Three Peaks Challenge on Tuesday.

Driven by her dad, Kevin Stones, their 24 hour challenge begins at Ben Nevis at 8.30am, with a five hour aim to get up and down the Scottish mountain. They will then head south to Scafell Pike, in the Lake District, and finally, after a five-hour drive to Wales, they will tackle Snowdon at 4am.

Mrs Holden and husband Chris, who both live in Middleton St George, were delighted to discover they were expecting twin boys in 2018. But during a weekend away camping in the Lake District, she knew something was wrong.

They rushed home to discover Mrs Holden was in premature labour, and sons Sam and James would be born at 24 weeks and five days gestation at The James Cook University Hospital.

Both boys had a rocky start, with Sam needing heart surgery and suffering from suspected Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a condition which can be fatal for premature babies, and James needing surgery for a hernia, as well as several operations on their eyes for ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity).

The family spent a total of 110 days between the neonatal units at The James Cook University Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital, The Freeman Hospital and The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle while their critically ill sons were cared for.

Mrs Holden said: “My neonatal journey was exhausting, it’s not the big things which drain you, you’re always preparing yourself for these. It’s the little things, like watching your child fighting to come off the ventilator, or them taking a step back and needing more oxygen that really plays havoc with your emotional and mental health. It’s a game of snakes and ladders, and you never know what type of day you are going to have.

“Lottie took me for a coffee one day in the hospital, and we sat and chatted for hours about our journey and she just ‘got it’. That helped me so much. Knowing the Leo’s team understood all the terminology, what we were feeling, was a huge weight lifted.

“The charity also supported us over the Christmas period, bringing in photographers in to take beautiful family photos of us all together, which was so special as the early photos we had of the boys were harrowing to look at. They also provided us with Christmas food hampers filled with loads of treats. We hadn’t been shopping in about two months, having this made our day.

“When we were told about moving to Darlington, I was really stressed and apprehensive, but knowing Leo’s was there really helped.

“We wanted to give back to Leo’s, because we knew they were there, and the team understood exactly what we were going through. Even if you didn’t need it, you knew they would support you if you did. I always said I had been cooped up for too long, and I love the outdoors, so once I was home and the boys were bigger, I would be outdoors fundraising.”

Sam and James are now nine-months-old and doing really well.

Lottie King, Founder of Leo’s, said: “We are so privileged to have been able to support Lindsey and Chris during their neonatal stay. We think she’s incredible taking on such a huge challenge and know she will do a brilliant job.”

Leo’s supports families of sick and premature babies across the North East on the neonatal units at The James Cook University Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital, University Hospital of North Durham, the maternity unit at The University Hospital of North Tees and works closely with the Northern Neonatal Network. Leo’s is also founder of Neonatal Mental Health Week.

To sponsor Mrs Holden visit