3 February 2024

A Father’s Marathon Tale of Hope and Gratitude

In Basingstoke, where everyday life unfolds for Delme Holmes, a devoted family man and taxi driver, a remarkable journey is brewing—one that ventures into the endurance to run the ABP Southampton Marathon to show his heartfelt gratitude for Southampton hospital.

Delme, at the age of 50, has found himself at a crossroads. With four children and a loving wife, his motivation to lead a healthier life took root as Hollie, his second oldest, is due to receive major heart surgery. Born in Thailand, Hollie carried with her an unnoticed heart defect until the family returned to the UK. At two and a half years old, a murmur prompted a visit to Basingstoke Hospital where their lives took an unexpected turn.

Hollie was swiftly referred to the E1 Ocean Ward, a specialist children’s cardiac unit at Southampton Children’s Hospital. Consultant and heart surgeon, Mr Michael Lavrsen, is the guiding hand overseeing Hollie’s progress, monitored her every six months. Hope lingered that her condition might mend itself, but at the age of four, it became evident that surgery was inevitable.

Last year, an attempt was made through keyhole surgery, although complications meant the procedure couldn’t be completed. The next step was for Hollie to reach a specific weight before open heart surgery could be considered. Now, as Delme laces up his running shoes, the surgery is imminent.

Hollie only knows that she has a “special heart”. No casual observer would know about her unique journey. Delme and his wife have walked alongside her, closely monitoring every heartbeat, every milestone. Tests, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and echocardiograms paint a vivid picture of their vigilance.

Amid all this, heroes have emerged – Southampton Children’s Hospital staff. Dr Black and Mr Lavrsen have been described as a real-life Superman after meeting the family a year ago. Their time, patience, and reassuring words provided a lifeline to the family. The nurses on the ward, the gentle presence of therapy dogs, and the child-friendly environment have given hope.

And now, against the backdrop of Southampton’s landscape, Delme is set to run his first marathon—the ABP Southampton Marathon this April. A novice runner, he embodies the spirit of perseverance, a reflection of the strength mirrored by Hollie in her own journey. Having shed 2.5 stones in six months, he has diligently prepared, with treadmill runs, pace drills, and hill workouts.

The path ahead includes a 15km run in January, an 18-mile run in February, and a steady march towards April’s marathon.

Why Southampton Hospitals Charity? For Delme, the answer is as clear as the route for his marathon. The charity is not just a worthy cause; it’s a connection to Hollie’s journey through the hospital, it’s a lifeline. Southampton is where Hollie’s heart beats, where the family’s gratitude and love have found a home.

Delme’s marathon is more than a personal achievement; it’s a tribute to the hospital that became an extension of their family. As he crosses the marathon finish line, his family will be there, cheering him on. Hollie will share in his achievement. In every step he takes, there’s a heartbeat echoing resilience, love, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

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