A thankful Stourbridge mum and her friends have gone above and beyond for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, after taking on the Edale Skyline Challenge and raising over £1,620 for the hospital’s Oncology Department, where her seven-year-old son received cancer treatment.

Along with her pals, Kathy Lyons-Wainwright and Helen Dunn, mum Sarah Layton donned her hiking boots and embarked on the popular 22-mile walk through the peak district. After first meeting in the playground during the school pick-up, the trio have become firm friends and often go walking together. However, this was a challenge like no other, and it was all for Sarah’s son, Josh.

When Josh was little, he began to complain of a sore knee, but with nothing picked up on an x-ray at their local hospital, Josh was sent home. Unfortunately, the pain continued and eventually he developed a limp. Then one day, not long after Christmas and Josh’s third birthday, he became really lethargic and complained he couldn't walk, Sarah also noticed his temperature was high. Worried about her son, Sarah returned to the hospital.

This time, Josh had blood tests to rule any illnesses out, but as Sarah and her partner, Mark, were pulled into a room full of serious looking doctors and nurses to get the results, they knew it wasn’t good news. Their little boy had got Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a rare type of cancer that affects the white blood cells.

Sarah and Mark’s world crashed down around them as they tried to comprehend what the doctors had told them. If that wasn’t enough, they were told to get things ready for Josh immediately, so he could be admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and begin receiving intensive treatment without delay. 

Josh underwent intensive therapy.

When the family arrived at the hospital the next day, Josh was shown to his bed, where he underwent more tests, before being taken to theatre for his first procedure to inject chemotherapy into his spine. With no time to catch their breath, the next two weeks felt like a blur for Sarah and Mark, who were distressed to see their little boy being prodded and poked, with him too young to understanding why.

Josh’s treatment continued for the three-and-a-half years that followed, and as he got older he began to take it all in his stride, even making friends with some of the nurses he had found scary in the beginning. Now, Josh is in remission, only visiting the hospital for six-monthly check-ups.

Sarah said: “When we saw we could take on the Edale Skyline Challenge for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, there was no question we’d do it. After everything the hospital has done for Josh, it just means so much to give back.

“The walk was far hillier than we had expected or trained for but we made it and had such a good time meeting others. The scenery was honestly just incredible.”

Helen, Kathy and Sarah at the Edale Skyline.

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re thrilled to hear that Josh is doing so well after what must have been such a scary few years. Sarah and her friends Kathy and Helen absolutely smashed our Edale Skyline Challenge and the funds they have raised for our Oncology Department will go towards helping other families going through similar experiences to Josh’s.”