A DARING dad is embarking on an Everest adventure raising money for a hospital unit which supported him through the most traumatic experience of his life.
John Barnes will be trekking to base camp later this year on charity mission raising money for the Jessop Wing special care baby unit.
He has wanted to do something to show his appreciation for the care he and his wife Betty received when their twins Jake and Thomas were born there 16 years ago.
Tragically, despite the best efforts of all involved, Jake died within just nine hours.
Today Thomas is a strapping 16-year-old lad who has just completed his GCSEs and has dreams of becoming a sports physiotherapist.
John and Betty, from Treswell Crescent, Hillsborough, said they are both extremely proud of the young man he has become - although Jake is obviously still never far from their thoughts.
Now, after hitting his milestone 50th birthday, John has decided to take on the challenge he has always dreamt of and will complete the trek to base camp and back over 12 days in October.
Betty, aged 52, gave him four envelopes for his birthday and asked him to pick one - knowing full well Everest would be the one he would choose.
Other options included a trip to Las Vegas complete with helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, a visit to the volcanoes in Iceland and a trip to see the Northern Lights in Finland.
John, who works at an engineering firm, said: “It’s always been in the back of mind to go to Everest - a life-time ambition I suppose.
“I’m fascinated to see it up close, rather than just look at pictures in books.
“I’ve also always wanted to do something in aid of the special care baby unit because of their support at that very traumatic time. I can still remember it all so clearly - everyone did everything they could, there were junior staff that should have gone home hours ago and there were still there. They were incredible.
“They also put us in touch with the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death or SANDS charity and the support I received there saved my life to be honest - I know that sounds dramatic but it did make such a difference.”
John said he was nervous but excited about the forthcoming trip, adding: “I can’t believe I am actually going!”