Dean and Melissa Davis have had to ride a roller coaster of emotions over the past five years.
For the couple, along with their three other children Archie, 16, Daisy Mae, 14, and Poppy Rae, 12, have had to deal with the trauma of younger daughter and sister Harper having a life threatening illness.
There were times when they thought they were going to lose the eight-year-old but she has bravely fought through her illness.
Harper’s life changed in 2018 while on a family holiday in Norfolk when she contracted E-coli and a rare secondary infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome which effected her kidneys and bowel.
The family’s lives were turned upside down on their return home to Haverhill when the Westfield Primary Academy pupil’s health deteriorated and she was taken to the West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds. Within 24 to 36 hours she was transferred to a specialist unit at Nottingham Queens Hospital.
There then began numerous round trips northwards for 48-year-old Dean and his 43-year-old wife as she was being treated during which time she had a kidney transplant with the organ donated by Dean’s 58-year-old sister Donna Davis, who lives in Dorset.
To add to Harper’s problems she also developed type 1 diabetes because of the infection.
“We were terrified that we could have lost our daughter,” said Dean, a physical trainer who runs Kedington Fitness Centre. “I consider how lucky we are to have her here.”
Now with Dean and James Willett, Dan Plumber, Karen Boxall, and Donna and Daisy Mai Brown, along with support drivers Simon Miller and Adam Thompson, who are all members of the fitness centre, he is planning to walk 106 miles with them from the Nottingham hospital to Haverhill on May 23, 24, 25 and 26 to raise money for charity.
“It’s a route that my family have completed back and forth for surgery and care. We are hoping to raise funds for the hospital which saved her life and continues to treat and support her, also our local diabetes clinic at West Suffolk Hospital as due to the infection my daughter is now Type 1 so needs care and support for this.”
Dean is hoping that some of the funds raised will also go towards Harper’s school and added: “Along with the funds raised we are hoping to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes and also for kidney donors.
“Harper has got her own scars and trauma and gets flashback all the time but every day is a miracle that we see her,” he added.
The youngster’s school have also helped ensure Harper gets the proper medical attention she requires and Sarah Egan, the lead thrive practitioner at Westfield Primary and whose son is also a Type 1 diabetic, said: “It’s a team effort looking after Harper and we manager her needs.
“She is wonderful and has got the resilience of an ox and has gone through an awful lot for someone so young. Quite often she feels absolutely awful but she still comes to school.”
Tanya Fifield, fundraising officer for My WiSH, which is supporting Dean and his team said: “For Dean to want to complete such a tough challenge only goes to show what his daughter Harper has been through.
“The community support the family are receiving for this challenge is fabulous. The My WiSH Charity wish the whole team the best of luck and we will see you at the finish line.”
To support Dean’s fund-raising efforts a special donation page has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/f/106-mile-hike