Little Grace inspires dad’s marathon effort

Lee Butcher, with fiancee Clare Naylor and baby Grace. JPCO

Lee Butcher, with fiancee Clare Naylor and baby Grace. JPCO

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Having his daughter Grace watch him as he ran 26 miles was the best feeling in the world for Lee Butcher.

Little Grace, from Maidenbower, who is one-and-a-half, was born three months premature in September 2011.

She weighed just 1lb 10oz and spent the first few weeks of her life in an incubator, attached to tubes in St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey before being transferred to East Surrey Hospital.

Miraculously she survived and her devoted dad Lee, 40, ran the Brighton Marathon on Sunday (April 15), to raise funds for Bliss which provides care and support for all premature and sick babies and their families.

He ran it in four hours and five minutes with Grace and his fiancee Clare Naylor in the crowd. Lee said: “Grace was born with blood poisoning and it was put to us if she didn’t start tolerating food her chances of survival would deteriorate. In that first 48 hours it was touch and go. The care she received was superb and we wouldn’t have our little girl without them. At 24 weeks Clare went into hospital as she didn’t feel well. They told us she was in the early stages of labour and the baby would come sooner rather than later. It was a very scary time. It was our first baby so it was a shock and we were fearful that the worst would happen. It was a very emotional time for both of us but we were grateful that Grace had survived the delivery. It was like an emotional rollercoaster. Clare stayed at the hospital for the first week and after that we had a 70-mile round trip each day to spend time with Grace. “We were allowed to hold her on the second day and although it was very scary to hold a baby that small it was amazing for both of us.”

Lee, who works for UK Power Networks in Three Bridges, completed the marathon despite having broken his leg in 2010, which means he ran with a ‘numb leg’ and restricted movement. He said: “It has been my lifelong ambition to complete a marathon and it was an fantastic experience. I felt very fortunate to be running the marathon with Grace and Clare in the crowds. I don’t think Grace will remember much about it but it was great to see her there.”

Lee plans to run the marathon again next year with Clare.

Lee, has raised just under £500. To sponsor Lee visit: www.justgiving.com/Lee-Butcher