Ocean's eight take on Noah' Ark cycle challenge

Barry And District News: FIGHTER: Ralphy Bell battles his illness FIGHTER: Ralphy Bell battles his illness

TWO Barry dads have enlisted the help of six other men in a pedal powered bid to help the hospital that cared for their children.

Dads-of-two Joshua Bell and Nino Zeraschi, whose baby son Ralphy and baby daughter Olivia needed care on the Children’s Hospital for Wales’ Ocean ward, will embark on a two-day cycle challenge to raise money for the hospital’s Noah’s Ark Appeal to express their gratitude for the attention both their families received.

The duo will be joined, on their 127 mile journey from Carmarthen, West Wales, to the Children’s Hospital for Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, by dads-of-two Richard Platts, 42, and Matthew Sewell, 33, Luke Bell, 22, Joshua Sewell, 23, Michael Blackmore, 34, and Andrew Derrick, 49.

Joshua Bell, 24, of Barry, said his then sixth-month-old son Ralphy was rushed to the Cardiff hospital after appearing unsettled at home on October, 26 last year – later diagnosed as having meningo encephalitis, and very close to death.

He said: “He was whinging, crying, and tugging at his ear, but you don’t think anything of it. He was clinging to my partner.”

Ralphy’s head swelled at Barry hospital and he was given immediate medical help before an ambulance made the emergency dash.

Josh said: “Ten nurses were there. They took Ralphy off us. They put needles in him. It was surreal. Zoe and I were standing there. There was a nurse who was really amazing, calm and talked to us about what was happening to Ralphy. At the time we knew something was seriously wrong, but we didn’t know it was going to be as life-threatening as it was. We were just silent.”

The nurse explained their son would need intensive care and at one point it was thought an air ambulance may need to fly their desperately ill child to Birmingham for care, but Ralphy was able to stay in the Cardiff intensive care unit.

Josh said: “That was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Ralphy was on machines – it was horrible.”

Ralphy was put in a medically induced coma and given little chance of survival, but the plucky little boy defied all the odds against him to pull through.

He then spent weeks on the Ocean Ward receiving 24/7 care.

“The recovery, we couldn’t believe,” Josh said. “We thought he would be in for months. The success was really down to their knowledge. When we went in we thought he would not get through 24 hours. He’s doing really well now. They saved my son’s life. I’ve told the girls on ICU if I could give them a million pounds each, I would. Some day most families are going to have an experience of a children’s hospital and the money is going to the best cause. Without them my son wouldn’t be here.”

Nino Zeraschi, 34, said his wife Anna was taking their 11-month-old daughter Olivia to the doctor when she had a fit and was admitted to hospital on November 11 three years ago. Olivia had more fits, spent time on the high dependency unit (HDU) and was diagnosed with generalised epilepsy.

Nino, of Barry, said: “My daughter was in the children's unit for three weeks. They really gave us confidence.

“During this hard time, the support we both had from the nurses and doctors was amazing. So we, with the help of some close friends are raising money to give back to hospital, so those who sadly have to go there, will get the amazing support we had.”

The riders set off from Carmarthen on Thursday, May 15.

The team effort is being supported by Holiday Inn Cardiff City, general manager Richard Platts, and Beespoke Cycles, High Street, Barry.

They welcome further support for this and future fundraising efforts for the same cause.

You can support the team via Twitter on @oceanwardcycle, email oceanwardcycle@yahoo.co.uk and visit Marco’s Cafe, Barry Island, where collecting tins are available.

To donate online, visit http:/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/antoninozeraschi or http://virginmoneygiving.com/team/OceanWard

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