THANK YOU: Gary Close and Sarah Dart have raised money for The Sick Children’s Trust to say thank you for the support they received at a worrying time       TM pic
THANK YOU: Gary Close and Sarah Dart have raised money for The Sick Children’s Trust to say thank you for the support they received at a worrying time TM pic

A BUTTERKNOWLE couple have raised more than £1,500 for a charity that helped them in their hour of need when their new-born twins became poorly.

Gary Close and Sarah Dart told of their anguish when one of their babies became “grey and limp” and had to be rushed to intensive care. The condition of the other also deteriorated.

The family is now over the worrying scare but mum and dad say they will be forever grateful for support from

The Sick Children’s Trust – a charity which provides families with a place to stay, free of charge, just minutes from their sick child’s bedside.

Mr Close and Ms Dart had welcomed their identical twin sons, Joe and Seb, on October 1 at the University Hospital of North Durham. Born at 36 weeks, the boys were delivered by planned cesarean

Joe was born first at 9.31am weighing 5lb 9oz. Seb was born a minute later at 5lb


Despite needing special care for the first three days of their lives, they returned home as a family of four on October 7.

The new parents never expected to have to return to hospital just over a week later when their babies became poorly. Ms Dart, 33, said: “Seb started with a snotty nose and a cough and then Joe started. We didn’t really think anything of it at first. We just

thought it was a bit of a cold.”

During a trip to urgent care at Bishop Auckland General Hospital, the couple were informed that Seb had colic.

Ms Dart said: “You do think, ‘Am I just overreacting’. But by 8pm that night, within half an hour, he just went downhill. Seb was grey and limp so we rang 111 and they sent us back to urgent care.”

Seb was later rushed to Darlington Memorial Hospital. Doctors confirmed that he had bronchiolitis – a common lower respiratory tract infection which affects babies and young children under the age of two. Seb was also suffering from periods of apnoea – when a child’s breathing stops and starts.

The next day, the youngster was taken to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, where he was put on a ventilator and sedated.

Ms Dart said: “With the virus, the first few days are a cough and snot and then they end up not being able to breathe because their lungs can’t cope. Apparently it is a really common thing but we were so worried. I think people should know more about bronchiolitis and the symptoms to look out for.”

Meanwhile, Joe’s condition also began to deteriorate. He was admitted to Darlington Memorial Hospital where he was incubated and then transferred to the RVI that same day having also come down with bronchiolitis.

Ms Dart said: “I was devastated. I did no know what was happening. I just kept thinking, ‘what if something bad happens to them?”

And if they didn’t have enough to worry about, the couple were faced with the problem of where to stay. After spending the first night in a nearby Travelodge, they were offered a room for the next ten nights at Crawford House – home from home accommodation at the RVI which is managed by The Sick Children’s Trust.

Thankfully, the boys were well enough to leave hospital after 11 days.

After returning home, Mr Close decided to ask for donations for the charity for his 30th birthday on November 5.

Some £1,508 was raised in just six days on an online fundraising page.

Mr Close, 30, said: “I set a target of £250 not thinking we would get this much.

“It is nice to know that everyone cares. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone for their support. It is overwhelming.

“I am thankful that we have done it so we can think that other people can use it now. It just made our lives so much easier.”

The money raised will be used at Crawford House.

Ms Dart added: “The nurses in PICU were outstanding. There was so much professionalism and they keep you smiling. It is hard to put into words what it all means to us. The charity is amazing.”

The boys are now eight weeks old and are settling in well at their home in Butterknowle.

Ms Dart added: “Life is hectic but we would not change it for the world.”