From dunking in ice cold water to getting electrocuted – a brave mum has tackled one of the hardest physical fundraising challenges to help the hospice that cares for her little girl.
It was a day of mud, sweat, and tears for Sarah Brown, 36, of Manchester, who took on Tough Mudder along with five friends to raise almost £2,000 for Derian House Children’s Hospice.
Sarah’s daughter Tilly, seven, has complex needs and has been cared for the hospice since she was two-years-old.
The proud mum shed tears as she and her friends – nicknamed ‘Team Tilly’ – were met by Tilly herself at the finish line at Heaton Park in Manchester on Saturday 15 July.
“Everyone who took part knows about Tills and how Derian has supported our family,” said Sarah.
“When Tilly was born, she needed extra support. But it wasn’t until she suffered five cardiac arrests, during one of which that we actually lost her for 16 minutes, that her needs became more complex. Tilly now needs 24/7 care.”
Sarah tackled the gruelling 5km Tough Mudder course with friends Victoria Roberts, Leanne Roberts, Chris Haynes, Lee Dewhurst, and Mike O’Connor.
“We were all black and blue by the end of the obstacle course,” said Sarah.
“We enjoyed it but it was definitely one of the hardest physical challenges I have put myself through. It was a real team effort. It’s not a race, it’s about getting across that finish line.
“Not only were we electrocuted, we had to dunk under a freezing arctic bath, wade through a mud pit, and climb a 13-foot high pipe named Everest. That was really hard. Even to get past the start line, we had to climb a six-foot wall! It was daunting but a kind-hearted stranger helped me out and let me stand on his shoulders to get over. But despite all that, we’re thinking about doing it again next year – and this time going even bigger.
“We brought Tilly out for the photo at the end and I burst into tears – it was all for her.
“Everyone that did it with me did it for Tilly. She is special to a lot of people.”
Tilly’s whole family visit Derian House – including mum Sarah, dad John, 49, and younger sisters Marnie, three, and Pixie, one.
“When we first visited Derian House, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Sarah.
“We didn’t know what hospice care involved – we thought the worst. But it is not what you think at all. We love to visit Derian – the hospice enables us to make happy memories, and in an environment that is set up to care for Tilly’s needs.
“Tilly loves the hydrotherapy pool the most. She loves swimming and it means that she can get in the water even with her tracheostomy. She especially loves that she can go swimming with her sisters. We also love the sensory room, and to visit the cinema and watch films as a family. The support we receive from Derian House is invaluable to us – and to all the families they care for.”
Kerry Pritchard, Community Fundraiser at Derian House, said: “What a fantastic way to celebrate lovely Tilly! Thank you so much to Sarah and all of Team Tilly for their incredible muddy effort for Derian House.
“While it is free for families, it will cost £6million to run services at Derian House in 2023, and we couldn’t do what we do without our kind-hearted supporters – like Sarah and the team.”
You can still donate to Team Tilly’s Tough Mudder for Derian House: https://www.gofundme.com/f/3wnf8-team-tilly
Derian House, based in Chorley, cares for more than 400 babies, children, young people and their families from across the North West and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Find out more: www.derianhouse.co.uk