Family prepare to take on Hannah’s Journey Challenge
Hannah-Michelle Browne from Pontypool, Wales, was just 21 years old when she suffered a cardiac arrest after developing peri-partum Cardiomyopathy and Sepsis. Pregnant at the time, Hannah-Michelle was taken to a local hospital in Abergavenny, initially being treated for pneumonia, however an astute doctor discovered that she had Peri-partum Cardiomyopathy before being transferred to the Heath University Hospital Cardiff.
There, she unknowingly gave birth to her son Gerwyn and was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. She was induced into a coma for three weeks before being brought out of it for just an hour in order to meet her son. Tragically she passed away two weeks later due to Sepsis.
Hannah and Gerwyn in the hour that she was able to spend with him.
Since her death in 2013, Hannah-Michelle’s family have fundraised in her memory, so far raising £20,000 to support the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
Hannah-Michelle’s family, has organised annual golf days and a skydive to raise funds, but sadly the 2020 and 2021 events were cancelled due to the pandemic. Hannah-Michelle’s cousin, Megan Touhig, decided that she wasn’t going to let the pandemic stop the family from fundraising this year, and has organised Hannah’s Journey Challenge 2021.
The family pictured a few years ago at a fundraising event at Hannah's primary school.
Megan’s inspiration from this challenge came when she asked Hannah-Michelle’s son Gerwyn, who is now eight-years-old, what he enjoyed doing best during the pandemic. His response was ‘riding my scooter and walking in the park’.
Megan then decided that the family would hold a fundraising challenge where they ask family and friends to cover 245 miles over the course of 2021. Whether that’s by running, cycling, walking, scootering, or any other method, this is up to the individual.
Whilst naming the challenge Megan not only took into consideration that the challenge would complete the same amount of miles Hannah-Michelle took on her journey between hospitals and being brought home, but also the song ‘Don’t stop Believin’ sung by Journey was Hannah’s favourite song especially sung by Glee and her cousin Tomas with Only Boys Aloud. The naming of the challenge also came from the name of a poem that Tomas wrote when Hannah-Michelle was fighting for her life, which he named Hannah’s Journey.
Megan and Hannah pictured at a pop concert on Hannah's 21st birthday.
Megan said: “245 miles is the distance that Hannah-Michelle made from Pontypool to Abergavenny, onto Cardiff, then Birmingham, then back to her home town once she had passed away. As a family we’re going to be taking on this challenge in 2021 and we would love as many people as possible to join us.”
“The great thing about Hannah’s Journey Challenge is that everyone can take part, and it’s something that everyone can do whilst keeping to the COVID laws and guidelines. My grandmother who is 70 this year, will be taking part, she’ll complete it by walking a short distance every day, whilst other members of family and friends are hoping to cycle it in one go, or run it over the course of a couple of weeks.”
“We want everyone to stay safe, have fun, and raise as much money as possible by taking on the challenge.”
Each participant is donating £5 to kick-start the fundraising, and the family are hoping to reach their target of £1,450.
The money that the Hannah’s Journey Challenge raises will help University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Charity to support patients and staff on the Critical Care Unit and the Rare Diseases Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, where Hannah-Michelle was treated.
Charlotte Schofield, Director of Fundraising for UHB Charity, said: “Our thanks go to everyone who is taking part in Hannah’s Journey Challenge 2021. We are so grateful for all of the fundraising that you have done in the past eight years and the money that you raise from this challenge will help us to do even more to support our patients and staff on the Critical Care Units.
“The past year has been incredibly tough for our staff on Critical Care, and they are all working so hard to care for patients with COVID-19. The money raised for the unit helps us to provide better support for our staff, as well as funding cutting-edge equipment and research that will save lives in the future.”