Superheroes and cartoon creations will be adding a touch of fun to this weekend’s Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k.

Around 10 staff from PICU at James Cook are taking part in the Middlesbrough 10K dressed as superheroes and cartoon characters.

And for those still hoping to enter the flagship event on Sunday, September 3, the deadline for entries has been extended to midnight on Thursday (August 31).

The cast of colourful characters – look out for Scooby Doo, Harry Potter and Buzz Lightyear – are a team from the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at The James Cook University Hospital.

A variety of staff will be participating on Sunday including health care assistants, staff nurses, sisters, managers and consultants.

Organiser nurse Sue Thompson said: “We decided that we would walk the route to enable all our staff to participate and to raise local awareness of our unit.

“Having a sick child is every parent’s nightmare, and to realise your child has to go into an intensive care unit is frightening.

“Thankfully most families will never need our help, but we want to raise awareness of the unit in the local area to reassure families we are here if you need us.

“When we were looking for suggestions from the team, Sophie, a staff nurse in PICU and one of those taking part, suggested we run as superheroes, as to many families that is what we are.”

When asked about their experience of PICU, the Swales family said:

“When our teenage son was brought into PICU at James Cook he wasn’t expected to make it through the night, and if he did he was going to be severely disabled.

“All the team in PICU were superb – they not only saved our son’s life but they worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week with such passion and care.

“Our son is proof that miracles can happen with such special care. Thanks again to the PICU team.”

Widely regarded as one of the region’s top road races, the Taylor Wimpey Tees Pride 10k starts and finishes on Hall Drive, Acklam, offering a flat and fast one-lap course that’s ideal both for those seeking a personal best time and for those taking part in their first ever running event.

Everyone Active Events Manager Jimmy Wattis said: “We’re aiming for another record-breaking event, and we have extended the deadline to help achieve this goal.

“It’s a great experience, whether you’re running at the elite end of the race or walking the course and soaking up the atmosphere it is set to be a great day.”

Councillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member with responsibility for sport development, said: “The runners from The James Cook University Hospital really epitomise what the Tees Pride 10k is all about.

“Every year there’s a fantastic sense of community spirit, with people setting out to have fun and do their bit for some great causes into the bargain.

“Good luck to them, and to everyone else taking part in this great event on Sunday.”


Leon with his parents at the prom – Courtesy of The Gazette

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who has spent the last six months in intensive care celebrated his school prom with kind-hearted friends.

Leon Thorpe, a pupil of Redcar Academy, suffered brain injuries, spinal cord damage, breathing difficulties and numerous broken bones when he was knocked off his bike while coming out of Locke Park in Redcar in January.


Leon with his friends from Redcar Academy at their prom – Courtesy of The Gazette

Since then, he has been receiving round the clock care in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Leon can now communicate using his eyes, nods, smiles and some words, and is now able to make use of a wheelchair most days.


Leon with friends at Gisborough Hall – Courtesy of The Gazette

He no longer has a “tracheostomy” tube helping him with his breathing and the fact he can now eat normally again after initially being fed through a tube is helping him to regain his strength and some of the weight he lost immediately after the accident.

And Leon took a huge step forward in terms of his recovery, when attended a stylish event at Gisborough Hall with his school friends, to celebrate the end of their GCSEs and final school year.

Leon’s mum Ann Thorpe-Nichols, who is also mum to two girls, Leisha, one, and Liberty, 11, said: “Leon has a really good group of friends who visit him most nights, or at least a few times a week. They did a sponsored walk for him from Redcar to Saltburn tied together, three-legged in pyjamas and all sorts of funky things!


Courtesy of The Gazette

“Some of his friends asked his dad if there was any chance he could attend prom. I contacted the school and asked if it would be possible and they were quite happy to allow him to attend and excited about seeing him.”

With the school’s agreement, Ann checked with nursing staff, who talked to Leon’s doctors.

Thankfully, the staff taking care of Leon also agreed it would be a great idea for him to have a night out and celebrate with his peers.

Ann said: “I asked Leon about it and he said he would “really really love it”.


Courtesy of The Gazette

Leon’s Dad works for a local taxi firm who kindly allowed the use of one of their wheelchair accessible vehicles to transport Leon safely to and from the prom along with his mum and dad.

Ann adds her son is making slow but steady progress in his recovery, but admits the change in him has been “heartbreaking” to witness.

She said: “He is a different person now. I don’t know if I will get the Leon I knew back, but I haven’t lost him. It has been really hard to see him so poorly, but this is an opportunity for him to catch up with his friends and provide a little bit of normality outside of the hospital.”

Angela Sweeten, Principal of Redcar Academy said: “Our Year 11 students enjoyed celebrating the end of two years of hard work culminating in the recent GCSE exams; and we we’re all really pleased Leon was be able to join in with the celebrations.

“As a school, we’re really proud of all of our students’ academic efforts and achievements, as well as the kindness and generosity shown to Leon and his family throughout this difficult time.

“We wish all our students all the very best for the future.”

More pictures and video of the Redcar Academy Prom can be found at The Gazette website

A Staithes family have raised more than £2,400 to thank the hospital teams that helped give them their boy back.


15-year-old James Ditchburn was rushed into The James Cook University Hospital last November where he required two major operations to deal with a burst appendix.

A group of paediatric doctors, nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons worked through the night to stabilise the teenager who then spent a number of days in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) before moving onto ward 22.

“We did not know if we would see him again when he went into the operating theatre,” said his dad Paul. “The care he received was exceptional.”

James’ situation was particularly complicated because he has autism which affects his ability to talk.

David Macafee consultant surgeon said: “James was in a lot of distress and found it difficult to communicate with us what was wrong. He came in with a severe infection – once asleep on intensive care, our radiology colleagues were able to prove that it was appendicitis with a CT scan – enabling us to operate as soon as possible

“I had seen him at 11pm with a clear plan of action – when he worsened, paediatrician Jonathan Grimbley and the team worked through the night to stabilise him, make him comfortable and get the diagnosis”

James was allowed home just before Christmas and is now back attending Kilton Thorpe School.

Children's ward presentationDetermined to give something back his family held a bumper coffee morning in their home village of Staithes which raised £1,700 for PICU and the paediatric surgery team at the Middlesbrough hospital.

They also held a cake stall and raffled a signed Middlesbrough FC shirt which helped their total spiral to £2446.43.

“At the end of the day without the help of people in PICU, the surgical team and the ward we would not have him here today and he is our world. We could go on fundraising forever and it would not be enough,” said Paul

Mum Vanessa said: “We just want to say a heartfelt thank you to all the staff – without you we would not be a family anymore. You gave us our little boy back.”

Cathy Brammer, clinical matron for children and young people, added: “This is a fantastic amount to donate; I would really like to thank the family for their hard work.”