Pilot’s trek for hospital

Jonathan Smith with his son Thomas.
Jonathan Smith with his son Thomas.

An airline pilot from Lancaster is to trek across northern India to raise money for a hospital which helped save his son’s life.

Jonathan Smith is supporting Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where his son Thomas underwent open heart surgery when he was just three days old.

Thomas was born in November 2012 after an uneventful pregnancy.

However, soon after his birth, doctors became concerned with his circulatory system and he was rushed from Barrow-in-Furness by emergency ambulance to Alder Hey.

It was there the medical staff discovered a narrowing of the aorta which required immediate open heart surgery when Thomas was just three days old.

Jonathan said: “Without the immediate life saving surgery Thomas received, his future would have been very uncertain. Needless to say, my wife Steph and I owe an awful lot to Alder Hey.

“To that end, I have signed up to a charity trek around northern India in October this year, in order to raise much needed funds for the new Alder Hey Hospital, ‘Alder Hey in the park’.”

The hospital has been designed by children and £30m is required to complete the project.

Jonathan has been tasked with raising £3,000 to attend the trek.

He said: “We’ll arrive in Delhi, transfer by overnight sleeper train to Dharamsala and begin our 70km trek up into the foothills of the Himalayas.

“We’ll camp, wash in rivers and generally absorb the atmosphere of northern India whilst climbing up to 10,000ft.

“This is a heck of a challenge but spurring me on will be the knowledge that all the money raised will go towards a phenomenal cause, one to which I am hugely endebted.”

Jonathan featured in the Guardian in 1999 as a Ripley sixth form student who had just flown a light aircraft solo at the age of 17.

Now based in Liverpool where he is an airline captain for easyJet, Jonathan managed to secure a photo shoot onboard one of the firm’s Airbus aircraft with Thomas, now two years old, in his own little co-pilot uniform.

Jonathan said: “Thomas was really excited as he donned his uniform and played daddy’s little helper for the morning!

“He loved all the lights and buttons and even welcomed his would-be passengers aboard on the PA system!

“It was a real pleasure to introduce Thomas to my place of work; in fact, we all became kids again for an hour or two!”

To sponsor Jonathan, go to http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/J-SMITH3

Alternatively, you can text a donation by texting JONS58 and the amount (eg £5) to 70070.

Jonathan added: “Thomas and the thousands of other children whose lives have been saved by this phenomenal hospital are so grateful for your help.”