Youngster is inspiration for Laura’s marathon challenge

Laura Singleton gets ready for the weeks spinathon at Oakhill College in aid of TOFS with Gabrielle Singleton, Harriet (5) and Kay Leech and Chris Holden.
Laura Singleton gets ready for the weeks spinathon at Oakhill College in aid of TOFS with Gabrielle Singleton, Harriet (5) and Kay Leech and Chris Holden.
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A mum-of-four from Billington is running the London Marathon in April after being inspired by a five-year-old girl who spent the first seven months of her life in hospital.

Laura Singleton (31) is aiming to raise a minimum of £1,500 for the charity TOFS which provides support for families of children born unable to swallow.

She has been inspired by Mellor youngster Harriet Leech who is the daughter of her friend Kay Leech. The two mothers met through attending the Clitheroe gym E.L.Fitness and it was there that Kay told Laura about her daughter’s health problems.

During pregnancy it was suspected Harriet could have swallowing issues as Kay was suffering from polyhydramnios.

“Following an emergency section, the doctors tried to pass a tube into Harriet’s stomach, but there was a dead end,” explained Kay.

This was due to Harriet’s oesophagus being connected to her trachea and Harriet was immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital before being transferred to St Mary’s at Manchester. At only two days old Harriet underwent a 15 hour operation to disconnect her oesophagus and trachea. This was only partially successful as, following the disconnection, the doctors discovered that Harriet’s oesophagus was too short to connect to her stomach. She therefore had to stay in hospital for at least three months to grow, but after further complications she stayed in for seven and a half months.

“It was so hard, but she is an absolute pleasure to be around,” said Kay, who is the North West contact for Tofs. “She is always happy, full of energy and has lots of friends at her school, St Mary’s at Mellor, she still has feeding difficulties and was left with chronic lung damage, but you really would not know, til she coughs.

“People like Laura are amazing in what they do,” said Kay. “Running the London Marathon is enough, but to raise a minimum of £1,500 is fantastic.”

To help raise the funds, a charity week is being staged at Whalley’s Oakhill Academy from Monday February 10th through to Sunday February 16th with 80 hours of fancy dress spinning all week from 7 am to 8 pm. Every staff member is getting involved in the hope that donations will be forthcoming. There will also be the chance for the gym’s members and non members to take part in fancy dress classes during the week in return for a small donation of £4 from each person.

A family fun day is also being held at The De Lacy Arms at Whalley on Sunday February 23rd from 1 til 5 pm. A whole host of local businesses have donated prizes for the raffle and meat for the barbecue as well as the location for the event.

Bowker BMW have donated a car for the weekend and a free MOT and the Trishna restaurant at Whalley has donated a meal for two, Other East Lancashire businesses that have donated include Kellie Hughes, P & J Palmer, The Nab Studio, Absolute Fitness, Precious, Hallworths Butchers, Amys Delicatessen, Oakhill Academy, E.L.Fitness, The De Lacy Arms, Simply The Best, No. 47 La Boutique, Glass Decor, Hoody Marvelous, Whalley Wine Shop, Wood’s Craft Bakery and The Sunbed Shop at Rishton.

Laura, who is mum to Reece (11), Layton (nine), Jenna (seven) and Caitlin (six), said: “I am a very proud mum of four and I for sure would not be where I am today or even contemplation running a marathon if it wasn’t for them.” To make a donation to Laura visit: