The power of friendship

Two lifelong friends share incredible story

Best friends Gemma Plant and Hayley Sutcliffe, 32, first met at school aged 11, and have been inseparable ever since. Gemma and Hayley have spoken of how their lives mirrored each other’s– including both losing babies just two months apart.

Gemma married her partner Matt Plant in 2011 and just two months before Hayley wed her partner Anthony Sutcliffe. Two years later, both Hayley and Gemma fell pregnant with their first children and were at the maternity unit at Royal Stoke University Hospital at the same time. Joshua Plant and Aidey Sutcliffe were born in February 2013. While both mothers have shared joy in their lives at the same time, they have also endured the heartache of losing a child. Hayley and Anthony’s daughter and second child Poppy died in May 2016, then two months later Gemma and Matt lost their second son Jacob.

Hayley said: “It’s something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, so to find out your best friend was going through it too was just hell. Afterwards, we were able to support each other, but at the time it was terrible.”

Gemma added: “I was trying to support Hayley with what she was going through, I was pregnant with what I thought was a healthy baby. Jacob was diagnosed with significant chromosome abnormalities 20 weeks, which resulted in me giving birth to him at 22 weeks. He lived for 90 minutes. No-one knows what to say to you – but I would prefer someone to say something stupid than to not say anything.”

Since losing their children, the two families have decided the best way to thank the incredible staff at UHNM is to raise money for the Forget Me Not Suites and the charity 4Louis, who provide memory boxes for bereaved parents. A Charity Ball took place at Port Vale in October 2018 and raised an amazing £7,500, which will be split between UHNM Charity and 4louis. Now Gemma and Hayley are determined to raise awareness of child bereavement and to encourage people to talk about it.

If you have been inspired by this story and want to fundraise for UHNM Charity visit for more information or call 01782 676444 to speak to one of the UHNM Charity team0 bestfriends

A mountain of a challenge for UHNM Charity

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A man has climbed Mount Snowdon five times in one day in honour of his brother. Paul O’Day performed the feat in Wales on Saturday 11 August 2018 for his brother Tom, who had an accident five years ago that resulted in serious injuries.

Paul said: “Each summit began very well, my brother did the first summit with me setting off at midnight, which considering five years ago he was lying in a hospital bed is amazing. The other summits became wetter and windier and the views disappeared but all worthwhile to raise money for a worthwhile cause.

Read more: A mountain of a challenge for UHNM Charity

Read Helen's story

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Mum-of-two Ms Helen McCreary was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016. Helen needed two surgeries at Royal Stoke University Hospital, followed by radiotherapy, and chemotherapy but still found the strength to run the Manchester Half Marathon.

Helen embarked on this tremendous personal challenge along with her friends, Deb, Helen, Teresa and her sister Janice. Together they ran the 13.2 mile course in May 2018. Helen completed the course in 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Helen said: “It was one of the hardest things I have has ever done physically. I trained for four months through the winter, running in snow and ice to prepare for the Half Marathon, but on the day of the event it was really hot and I didn’t think I could finish, but with the support from my friends I made it all the way to the finish line. It was a tough race and between us we lost four toenails due to the training and intensive running on the day.”

The five of them raised an amazing £2488.57 for UHNM Charity to support the Maternity Department, Radiotherapy, Oncology, and ward 228 at Royal Stoke University Hospital to enhance patient care and experience.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Katharine James said: “Helen is an inspirational lady, and it’s people like her that make the job worthwhile. Seeing patients do so well and thriving is priceless, and now, through Helen’s story she can inspire other patients to have a positive attitude, as it makes such a difference.”

Helen would like to thank all of her supporters from Maternity, radiotherapy, Oncology and Ward 228, her friends and her family for all their care and support during diagnosis and treatment. She wanted to show that no matter what, life goes on, and how a positive mental attitude can help wellbeing.

Consultant Paediatrician taking on half marathon


Consultant Paediatrician Dr Sheng-Ang Ho is taking on the Macclesfield half marathon on Sunday 23 September 2018 to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Team with UHNM Charity.

Dr Ho said: “Following three anterior cruciate ligament knee re-constructions I am just really pleased that I am able to run. This is the first Half Marathon I have entered, I only took up running 15 months ago having not really done any running before my accident, so any support you can give is really appreciated.”

Read more: Consultant Paediatrician taking on half marathon

UHNM Receptionist takes on Water Wipeout for Charity

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33 year-old Orthodontic, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Receptionist Leigh Taylor is taking part in the X Runner Water Wipe Out obstacle course in Nottingham on Saturday 7 July. Leigh from Hednesford has worked at UHNMs County Hospital for five years and is raising money for UHNM Charity’s County Hospital Fundraising Appeal which aim is to raise enough money to renovate the Chemotherapy Units garden for patients and visitors to the unit.

Leigh said: “I have had the pleasure of working alongside the fantastic staff at the chemotherapy unit for a while and during this time they have been lucky enough to have moved from their small cramped unit to a brand new unit, which is much bigger and more private for the patients receiving treatment. When I heard they are trying to raise money for a garden to go alongside their unit I just had to help as I know how much this would benefit the patients experience at our hospital.

“I’m not a fitness person at all so I decided to do a 5K but not just any 5K, this one has obstacles, lots of mud, a 50m swim and a 100m swim in white water, this will really challenge me to the core but it is nothing compared to what gruelling treatment the patients are going through.”

If you would like to support Leigh, please visit