Wigan schoolboy walking 200km in aid of neo-natal unit which saved his life

A generous young Wigan fund-raiser is proving his boots are made for walking to support the neo-natal unit which “saved his life”.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 2:37 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 2:38 pm
John-Joe Redford, nine, is taking on a 200km walking challenge over the month to raise funds for the neo-natal unit at Wigan Infirmary
John-Joe Redford, nine, is taking on a 200km walking challenge over the month to raise funds for the neo-natal unit at Wigan Infirmary

Nine-year-old John-Joe Redford from Abram, has set himself the task of walking 200km in aid of the unit at Wigan Infirmary.

The St John’s Primary School pupil was born at 27 weeks and his weight at one point dropped to two pounds as he battled chronic lung disease and had to be ventilated.

John-Joe previously walked 100 miles in four weeks and decided he wanted to do a similar challenge again for a good cause.

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John-Joe with proud family dad James Redford, mum Antonia Hughes and sister Poppy, seven

His parents Antonia Hughes and James Redford spoke to him about the neo-natal unit and he decided that should be the beneficiary of his physical efforts.

Proud Antonia, 30, said: “He already did one walking challenge with Scouts and decided he would do another one and push himself that little bit further.

“He said he wanted to do it for charity and we talked to him about the neo-natal unit and how they saved his life.

“We said it would be nice to give something back and straight away he said he wanted to do that.

“John-Joe wasn’t breathing when he was born. They had all these miracle machines and they also had to keep an eye on a hole in his heart.

“He needed a lot of care and they thought he would have to stay in for the amount of time he was premature but they absolutely worked their socks off and he was out in seven weeks.

“We’re ridiculously proud of him. He’s not had an easy time of it. He’s suffered with mental health problems and he’s being tested to see if he’s on the autistic spectrum, so for him to go out and do this is amazing. He really is our hero.”

So far John-Joe has raised more than £450 as he works toward his fund-raising target of £1,000.

He has set himself 28 days to complete the 200km distance.

To find out more or donate, click here.

A strong start:

John-Joe has made an impressive start to his challenge, completing more than 70km in the first eight days.

He has been mainly walking along the canal towpath but also through the woodlands close to his Abram home.

He has been doing some longer walks at the weekend to rack up the distances, with one day trip along the canal to Wigan and back.

He and his family also made a visit to Rivington and completed a walk despite the horrendous weather.

He is being supported in his walking by parents Antonia and James and his younger seven-year-old sister Poppy.

Antonia admits the physical challenge is somewhat different from his favourite pastime of gaming on his Play Station.

She said: “This is a change for him but he really likes what he is doing it for.

“Normally he would spend quite a lot of time in his bedroom but he wants to go out and do this for the neo-natal unit.

“We’ve also been pushing him quite hard.”

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