Margate family John and Vicki Brown and baby son Josh. The Browns are indebted to the Evelina Family Trust, the reason they jumped into the winter sea off Ramsgate on New Year's Day.
A couple marked the start of 2014 by making a splash in rough seas at Ramsgate in memory of their baby son.
John and Vicki Brown were joined by family and friends to brave rain, gales and waves for a New Year’s Day dip in aid of the Evelina Family Trust.
Despite horrendous conditions, 18 people - more than the dozen expected - took the plunge. A number wore special outfits, including Victorian costumes, onesies with one bather dressed - appropriately as a penguin.
The Browns hope to have raised more than £1,000 from their wetting for the charity that helped them during a poignant and precious life in a week for their son Joseph, born 14 weeks early.
Their tiny baby weighed less than the average bag of sugar, yet determinedly fought for his life in a specialist intensive care unit. Ultimately, the challenge proved too much for his lungs.
His loss has been eased with the arrival one year later of his brother Joshua, now three months.
Joseph’s parents, of Approach Road, Margate, remain indebted for support received when they stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, run by the trust to provide a home-from-home for the families of seriously-ill children being treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals.
Vicki has given a moving account of the family’s story in 2012 to raise awareness and as much money as possible for EFT, which helps many Kent families.
Tiny Joseph Brown who was born 14 weeks premature. Support given to parents Vicki and John during their baby's week-long life is the reason they took to the sea at Ramsgate on New Year's Day.
She said: “John and I surprisingly welcomed our darling son Joseph Taylor Brown into this world 14 weeks early on 27th September 2012 weighing only 1lb 11oz.
“Joseph was transferred to St Thomas Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in London. The dedicated, caring staff looked after Joseph and us so very well.
“We were lucky to be able to stay in the hospital while waiting for a bed at Ronald McDonald House. Once a bed became available we were given a room for as long as we needed which we prayed would be a long time.
“While at St Thomas’ we were able to spend our time with Joseph – first of all learning what all the different wires, tubes, machines and medicines were, and how they were helping our little boy.
“We were able to hold Joseph’s hand, rest our hands on his head, and around him, to make him feel secure like he was still in his mummy’s tummy – where he should still have been.
“We went shopping for some very soft blankets, John chose a special teddy and we picked lots of books with stories and nursery rhymes for our time with him.
“We treasured our moments spent with him – reading to him, singing to him, washing his little eyes; I never believed I could be so happy to change a nappy! In a different life, I am sure we could so easily have taken these moments for granted.
“After one short, but very precious week spent with our darling son, Joseph passed away peacefully in our arms. We shall treasure every second we had with him especially the time when we finally got to hold him close.
“Many of our family and friends got to meet our darling son and everyone’s support has been, and will be, what helps us through.
“ Joseph will always be a special part of our lives and with our family and friends his memory will always be kept alive.”
Brave bathers prepare to make a splash at Ramsgate in memory of baby Joseph Brown and to raise funds for the Evelina Family Trust.
Vicki, 38, a manager at Birchington Mobility Centre for 15 years, said that although their stay at Ronald McDonald House had been short, they wanted to do something to help other families benefit during difficult times from such a friendly comfortable place where they rely completely on volunteers and fundraising and do a amazing job.
Their jump in the sea on Tuesday was a follow up to a similar challenge in 2013 when conditions had been sublimely calm instead of ridiculously wild.
The Browns and their party met at the Queen’s Head pub on Ramsgate seafront where they met afterwards to revive, warm up and toast their achievement.
Donations can still be made to the cause at www. justgiving.com/babyjoseph
For more further reports and more pictures of Boxing Day and New Year's Day charity dips around Thanet, see next week's Thanet Extra.