A family’s heart-rending loss of a child has inspired a runner to take part in the London Marathon on behalf of the charity that has helped them cope with the grief.
On April 13, John Boxall will stride out through the capital’s streets to raise money for Save Babies Through Screening Foundation UK in memory of Phoebe Knibbs, who died in February 2013 at the age of just 21 months.
Phoebe died from Krabbe Disease, a rare condition that affects one in 100,000 babies born in the UK.
It has no cure and children affected by the disease, which attacks the nervous system, normally die before they reach the age of two.
John, an experienced runner with six London Marathons under his belt, is a friend of the family and having already earned a place in the race via the ballot opted to raise money for the charity in Phoebe’s memory.
He said: “I couldn’t think of a better or more deserving cause and I immediately felt part of a small but committed and caring team - Team PP as we are known.
“The thought of Phoebe and other babies and families affected by Krabbe Disease will keep me going whatever the weather.
“The more we can raise awareness of it the better.”
John will become the first ever London Marathon runner for the charity (known in short as Save Babies UK) and hopes that his participation will raise awareness of both the charity and the disease.
Phoebe was born on May 29, 2011 and lived in Kedington with her mum Hannah and big sister Amelia, six.
After a few months Hannah became concerned that Phoebe wasn’t developing as she should be and after a prolonged series of tests it was confirmed on October 29 that the toddler had Krabbe Disease and that she was unlikely to make her second birthday.
Determined to keep her daughter at home, Hannah had all the necessary equipment installed at her house and Phoebe’s grandmother Ann Naylor moved in to help.
After putting up a brave fight for another four months, including undergoing an operation, Phoebe passed away peacefully in her sleep on February 23, 2013.
Despite suffering the heartbreaking loss of her daughter, Hannah has shown great courage in wanting to raise the profile of the little-known disease, along with the charity that supports the children and families who suffer and live with it.
Along with five friends, Hannah took part in the BUPA Great South Run last October in aid of Save Babies UK.
They coined the title Team PP after the affectionate name given to Phoebe by her family.
Hannah, who thanked Redside Up for producing the advertising posters, said: “I would just like to say a huge thank you to John Boxall for running for Team PP.
“He has given up his spare time to train and run for the marathon. Also to Stacey Hall who is in training for the Scottish Marathon.
“I cannot thank you all enough, friends, family who have supported me and Amelia.
“I am honoured and proud and over whelmed that people have come together to raise money,and awareness.
“All the money raised will go to a fabulous charity, savebabies.uk.
“They helped me, guided me and supported me throughout Phoebe’s illness and they continue to work to raise awareness and support others.”
Phoebe’s grandma Ann added: “I know John will do Team PP proud.
“He will be brilliant and I know my angle granddaughter PP will be cheering him all the way. Go Team PP.”
Hannah shared her experiences and feelings of what she went through after Phoebe was diagnosed in a piece that appeared in the save Babies UK newsletter.
This is part of what she said: “Suction machine, oxygen brought to the house. My house was like a hospital, medication everywhere. But it was home, her home.
“Then D Day. Phoebe lost her fight and passed away peacefully in her sleep on the 23rd February 2013. She never reached her second birthday.
“She now shines bright, my angel, my star, my world.
“What I would give to hold her, smell her. But I know she is at peace, disease free and one day I will see those beautiful blue eyes again.”
Pat Roberts, executive director of Save Babies UK, said: “We are thrilled that John will be our very first London Marathon runner supporting Save Babies UK and we are so grateful to him .
“It is particularly important to us as we have a huge challenge to raise sufficient money to support an important Krabbe research project at Cambridge University Medical School.
“We wish John every success.”
John can be sponsored by going to www.justgiving.com/johnboxall.
To find out more about Save Babies UK visit www.savebabiesuk.org.