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  • Durham OnAir


Daring Durham dad Johnathan Storey is undertaking a tandem skydive later this month to raise money for The Sick Children’s Trust, the charity that supported his family with a place to stay while his daughter Ammia underwent lifesaving treatment in hospital in 2013.

Delivered by emergency caesarean section at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), Ammia was born with exomphalos, a condition that causes internal organs such as the intestines to grow outside of her stomach. When the thin membrane surrounding her external organs ruptured during delivery, Ammia was immediately rushed into theatre for a nine-hour operation. Dad Johnathan told us:

“Ammia was so beautiful when she was born, with long black hair, long arms and legs and slender piano fingers. But our world quickly came crashing down. The surgery saved her life, but it was only the start of a lengthy journey. Hours turned into days and days into weeks, with Ammia not gaining any weight. It was soon discovered that she had holes in her heart, triggering numerous additional surgeries as she went in and out of intensive care over many months.

“There was so much more to come. With Ammia still being ventilated at six months old, she had a tracheostomy so that a portable ventilation system would allow her to finally come home with us. The wonderful staff at the RVI trained us to use the equipment and finally, we took her home for the first time. However, we were hit with another shock when Ammia was taken to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for open heart surgery, just two weeks before her second birthday. She was eventually fitted with an ECMO machine, which pumps and oxygenates her blood outside her body, allowing her heart and lungs to rest. Thankfully, Ammia pulled through and we got her home.”

During Ammia’s time in Newcastle, mum Melanie Belcher and dad Johnathan stayed in both Crawford House and Scott House, two ‘Homes from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust that serve the RVI and the Freeman Hospital respectively. The family remain eternally grateful by the support they received, with Johnathan now taking part in The Sick Children’s Trust’s 40 skydivers challenge in celebration of their 40th anniversary.

Johnathan, who will complete his skydive on 20 August, said:

“I am proud to have the opportunity to do this skydive for The Sick Children’s Trust, which is such a wonderful charity that is very close to our hearts. When Crawford House gave us a room in their amazing ‘Home from Home’ at the RVI, we only thought it would be for a couple nights. That wasn't the case on our journey.

“Over the last nine years, The Sick Children's Trust staff have been incredible. The charity put us up for nearly 12 months, keeping us close to our little girl. In all that time they never asked for a penny. I’m trying my best to give something back after they helped us at the worst time in our lives.

“Ammia is now nine years old and doing brilliantly. She has yearly cardio, respiratory and surgical check-ups and the professionals are thrilled with her. She is a wonderful, beautiful and clever young girl who loves life. She still has some challenges ahead of her, but she is doing so great.” Regarding how he is feeling ahead of the jump, Johnathan said: “Honestly, I haven't been thinking about it. When I do it's the usual nerves and excitement, but also a brilliant feeling that every penny raised is going to The Sick Children’s Trust. Every time we walk past Crawford House it triggers all sorts of emotions, but we know how important that place is. Every family that stays there can get to their child’s hospital bedside in just a couple of minutes, which is a priceless gift.”

This year The Sick Children’s Trust is celebrating its 40th anniversary and since 1982 it has supported over 73,000 families, like Johnathan’s, with a free place to stay close to their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Community Fundraising Officer, Charlotte Coldrey, said:

“I have such admiration for Johnathan to take on a skydive, which is an incredibly brave thing to do. We’re celebrating a huge milestone at The Sick Children’s Trust this year and it’s fantastic to have 40 committed supporters who are willing to take on this challenge to raise money and mark this achievement.

“As a charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters and fundraisers like Johnathan to make sure we can continue to be there supporting more families. While we do not charge families to stay in any of our ten ‘Homes from Home’, it does cost the charity £40 to support a family for one night.”

More information about Johnathan’s skydive challenge can be found on his Just Giving page:

For further information about The Sick Children’s Trust, please visit


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