Inge Nijkamp

Inge's Mission: Marathon des Sables

Fundraising for Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity
raised of £10,000 target
Donations cannot currently be made to this page
Event: Marathon des Sables 2017, on 8 April 2017
We help make a difference to local patients & their familes


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On the 3rd November 2009, at just 28 weeks pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with the life-threatening pregnancy complication HELLP and found myself rushed into an emergency cesarean section after being told that both mine and my baby's lives were in acute danger. Our beautiful daughter Emma was delivered that day weighing just 1.13lbs and measuring not even 30cms. At 12 weeks premature, it was immediately decided that as she was so sick and vulnerable, she would be transferred from Bury St. Edmunds to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Everything had happened so quickly, and it was terrifying, but the nightmare had only just begun. I could write about every heartbreaking detail that we would have to live through for the next few months, but it would make for a very long and hard read. Instead, I want to share these few details....

It would be two days before I could be reunited with my daughter, as I was too unstable to be transferred myself that day. Thankfully I had my amazing family and friends around me to support me during such a desperate time, and we tried our best to celebrate Emma's birth and not let the anxiety and fear that we may loose her take over. Once in Addenbrookes, I spent a further week as an inpatient before I was discharged. Three weeks after that, it was deemed that Emma was stable enough to be transferred back to Ipswich hospital, our original starting point and our local hospital.

The staff at Ipswich were amazing, and did a fantastic job with our daughter's care. But the difference in going from a hospital like Addenbrookes, a world-renowned teaching hospital known for its medical excellence, to Ipswich which is not as big or well funded, was all to evident. The wards looked tired, equipment was old, or non existent. The doctors and nurses on the NICU ward were so caring,but what they couldn't do was make me, as a new mother, feel better. My daughter was not with me, I couldn't hold her, wash her, dress her or even feed her. 
What I missed was a private space for parents, a place where I could go to have a cry when I felt I couldn't cope anymore. And I missed having a relaxing, comfortable place to go to use the breast-pumps to express 6-8 times a day as I couldn't breastfeed my daughter. Of course, my husband was by my side throughout, going through all the same pain and anguish. We spent all day every day there, trying to be as much like parents to our daughter as possible, but it would often feel hard to relax in such a clinical environment. What would have helped would have been somewhere that would have given us a place to go for some respite, for some small relief from the intensity of it all, something to represent a home from home.

After three long and agonising months in hospital with many heartbreaking ups and downs, Emma had finally flourished and grown and we were at last told we could take our daughter home. At last we could begin the process of moving on from such a difficult start, and focus on settling into our new lives as parents.

6 years have passed and we are blessed to have an amazing little girl. I have managed to come to terms with what happened to us, and I have dealt with the personal trauma that I was left with. However, I have never forgotten our time at Ipswich hospital and feel like there is one more outstanding thing I must achieve. I would like to give something back to the doctors and nurses at Ipswich hospital, in recognition of all they did for our daughter, and I want to also do something that will benefit other parents who will find themselves in the same position we did, with a baby in intensive care, and who will be experiencing the same anxiety and fear.

And so, I have decided to embark on the 'Toughest foot race on earth'. In April 2017 I will be heading to the Sahara desert and embarking on the 5 stages of the world-famous Marathon des Sables; a self sufficient race spanning approximately 251km. It will be hot, tough, physically and emotionally exhausting, but I am taking on this epic challenge as a very personal demonstration of the control I have regained in my life, and to prove that I am a survivor.

This is by far the biggest and most ambitious undertaking I have ever faced. To all our wonderful friends and family who know us and know Emma, and to those of you who may only just be reading our story for the first time; I will be so grateful if you could support me and help me realise my dream to run this race and to raise money for the Sunrise Appeal, a fundraising campaign for the Neonatal and Paediatric departments at Ipswich Hospital, to buy dozens of new pieces of medical equipment to treat sick babies and children.

During 2016 I will be racing in the Brighton marathon, the SVP100, the New York marathon and possibly another trail race as part of my training. I aim to organise some fundraising events in the next year that I hope will help me get to my goal by next April, and will go towards helping all those poorly babies and their parents, and supporting the doctors and nurses doing their amazing jobs in saving all those precious little ones.

As well as a Justgiving page for the Sunrise Appeal, I will also be setting up a separate one for me;
This will be for anyone who wishes to support me with getting to the desert, training, professional advice and instruction, and all the necessary equipment I will need for the race. Your support in this will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please share as far and as wide as you can!


About the charity

We raise money to improve facilities, fund new equipment, provide important additional services, support staff development and initiate local medical research and innovative projects at East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. Please mention the hospital department you are supporting.

Donation summary

Total raised
+ £1,118.75 Gift Aid
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Offline donations

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