"My three-months-premature newborn baby in one hospital ward, my wife in another - both on a knife edge - who do I spend my time with? I doubt there's a 'right' answer, but that was the start of our journey with Daniel.
It was endless hours, sitting uncomfortably, just watching, sometimes holding the tiny hand of my incubated baby son, Daniel, surrounded by the gentle pings of oxygen monitors and the hissing of breathing support. On nights when I got a call during my brief hours of sleep at home, the worst was to hear they've taken a turn for the worse... Then the journey back to neonatal, wondering if this is when you say goodbye.
My newborn fought with the tenacity of a bull but the fragility of a butterfly as I, and the nurses prayed. Fortunately, the support the NHS provides means that in the majority of cases, the strength of life prevails. Ten years on and we are extremely lucky that Daniel is absolutely full of life and a happy, caring boy. He fought for his place in this world, with merely a moderate/severe level of deafness left to contend with.
This is why for three years now I've challenged myself to ever-increasing physical goals to raise money for the brilliant National Deaf Children’s Society and Leeds Children’s Hospital under my www.wozzy.co.uk initiative. One of my challenges in 2016 was to cycle solo the 130-mile Leeds & Liverpool Canal in a day, then take part in a 60-mile Liverpool cycle event before returning the length of the canal the following day. It was exhausting, but I did it!
Until three years ago, sports activities had never been part of my life. Before I started doing my cycling challenges I'd been focussing on losing over six stones in weight and when I first started cycling six miles to work along the canal, I needed to rest maybe four or five times during the commute!
Now I think, just as Daniel spent his early weeks in an incubator, the canals provide a safe incubation area for my healthy activity to grow. My cycling grew in strength along the canal and I've recently taken on running. Again I'm starting on the canal, and my running will soon have to grow strong enough to take part in the Yorkshire Marathon. It’s easy to see on every visit to the canal that so many other people are starting their journey of a healthy active life too."
Richard & Daniel, Rodley, Leeds & Liverpool Canal