A COUNTY Durham youngster returned to hospital yesterday to thank staff who helped to save his life.

When he was just ten days old, in November 1997, Luke Martin-Ainsley was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from pneumonia.

Now three-years-old, Ian, from Seaham, made a full recovery, thanks to the efforts of the staff at the neo-natal unit.

Father Ian, a traffic policeman with Durham Constabulary, and mother, Joanne, never forgot their debt to the hospital.

So, when 41-year-old Ian took part in the Great North Run, he decided that his £350 sponsorship money should go to the unit, and Luke went along to help to present it.

Ian said: "Taking part in the race was a spur-of-the-moment thing; it's not something I had done before, but my wife and I had no hesitation about handing the money over to the hospital staff.

"They were fantastic with Luke, who at the time was very, very ill."

Ian, who together with Joanne has another son, Josh, six, is planning his next fund-raising effort.

He will take part in the 136-mile coast-to-coast cycle ride from Whitehaven, in Cumbria, to Sunderland, on Wearside, in aid of the unit