Boy who had lifesaving heart surgery raises thousands for hospital

A YATE boy who needed lifesaving surgery after being born with two holes in his heart has raised more than £2,600 to help other children in hospital.

Barney Thomas, aged nine, underwent surgery when he was a baby.

To give something back, the Wellesley Primary School pupil decided to start raising money for the the Grand Appeal at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Barney made his fourth annual sponsored walk in late December, when he and dad Darren, 36, set up their own “Midnight March”, covering 22 miles around London in 12 hours, with Barney’s godfather Bradley Hackett.

Barney’s Just Giving page is still attracting donations, and had reached £2,699 by January 31 – beating last year’s total of £2,592.

‘Tired but proud’

Speaking after finishing the walk, he said: “I feel tired but proud that we’ve done it – I feel joyous.”

Darren, who works for Network Rail, said they decided to do a walk in London, to find a new challenge for Barney.

They started at Paddington station, and the walk took in Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Tower Bridge.

Darren said: “It all started when Barney saw Captain Tom’s fund raising during lockdown, and said he wanted to do the same.

“We started three years ago, walking from Bristol to Yate, which was 16 miles, and so needed to find something new to attract donations.

“It was twelve hours walking, from 6pm til six the next morning, and really wore us both out.  We did have breaks for food, but it was tough going.”

The annual fundraiser is Barney’s way to say think you to Bristol Children’s hospital, where he had his surgery.

Darren said: “He was one year old and has gone on to live a normal and happy life, thanks to the dedication and care received from the facility.”

£7,000 raised

Over the years Barney has raised more than £7,000 for toys and electronics for the hospital through its official charity.

He and his dad are already thinking about their 2024 fund raiser.

Darren said: “ We certainly plan to do it again – but we are running out of places we can go to make it more of a challenge and keep it interesting.

“Barney has high expectations of how much he can raise, so we need to keep people interested and donating year after year.”

Barney’s donation page can be found here.