Sunday 25th September started as a rather cloudy, ordinary day, but it didn’t stay that way for long. The drive to Oxford was a strange one – I was going there to see some ladies that I had never met before, and to watch a man run a marathon, who I had also never met, yet I knew it would be an emotional day and one I wouldn’t forget. Professor Mike Murphy, Consultant Haematologist, for NHS Blood & Transplant and Department of Haematology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford and Professor of Blood Transfusion Medicine, University of Oxford was running in the Oxford half marathon to raise money for naitbabies.org and NAIT awareness.
I got there first and suddenly felt very nervous. It was going to be the first time that I would meet someone who knew exactly what it was like to have their world turned upside down by NAIT. It wasn’t long after my arrival that I got a phone call from Thea and Stacy. They were in the car park! Hearing the friendly voices on the end of the phone made my nerves disappear and I was suddenly filled with excitement. When we met it was like meeting up with old mates. Soon Clair arrived, and then Sue and the conversation started to flow – as did the tears at times. We got to the start line just after most of the runners had began their run so unfortunately didn’t get to see Professor Murphy before he set off. However, the sun had begun to shine. We grabbed coffees, found some seats and shared stories. It felt good to be there and to be part of something so important to all of us.
The local radio station was there so Stacy asked for Mike to get a special mention for his huge part in trying to raise The next two hours seemed to fly by. We all had so much to talk about and we could have carried on for many more hours, but we were watching the clock as we didn’t want to miss Mike. We went and stood by the side of the road waiting for him to run by. We were laughing because we didn’t really know what he looked like having only seen a photo of him dressed in a suit. How would we recognize him? We needn’t have worried – he was easy to spot. The naitbabies logo and ribbon were printed on his running vest and we saw it from quite a way off. We erupted. We were a small group, but we were loud. We were wearing naitbabies t-shirts too, so just in case he couldn’t hear us, he would be able to see us. It worked – he couldn’t help but notice us. When he had gone past us, we made our way to the finish line – it would only be a few minutes before Mike crossed the line and we wanted to be the first people he saw when he did. Out came the huge banner and Mike came straight over when he had finished. He had barely caught his breath when he took his phone out of his pocket to check for messages – he was on call that morning! What a remarkable man. He was so pleased to have run in honour of naitbabies and, for all of us there, the realization that someone cared so much about what had happened to our babies that they wanted to do something about it was incredibly humbling. He stayed chatting to us after the race and we all thanked him, congratulated him on a very respectable finishing time and hopefully made him aware of how truly grateful we were for what he had done for us.
He completed the half marathon in a very impressive 2 hours 4 minutes and so far has raised a superb £1,700 for naitbabies.org. A truly wonderful man.
As for the five of us, we had to say our goodbyes and head off home. We began the day as relative strangers, and ended the day as lifelong friends.