Parents to run marathon for ‘angels’ who supported them during baby’s short life

Claire Nash and Wayne Flanagan are running the London Marathon in memory of their daughter Jade (Family handout/PA)
Claire Nash and Wayne Flanagan are running the London Marathon in memory of their daughter Jade (Family handout/PA)
PA Media

A couple whose baby daughter lived for just 10 days are running the London Marathon to raise money to support the wellbeing of the “beautiful humans” who cared for their family.

Jade Nash’s heart stopped when she was born on January 9 at University Hospital Lewisham, in south-east London, and, although staff managed to revive her, she died on January 19 at Demelza hospice, in nearby Eltham

Named after the midwife who delivered her, Jade also spent eight days at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and her parents Claire Nash and Wayne Flanagan, both 34, praised the “amazing people” they met during Jade’s short life.

The couple from Lewisham, who were both Covid positive when Jade was born six weeks before her due date, want kindness to be their daughter’s legacy.

“She opened our eyes up to these amazing people,” Ms Nash told the PA news agency.

“They are so selfless and they will do everything they can to ensure that loved ones can be together ahead of prioritising their health or their wellbeing.

“And that’s really what we want to carry forward in Jade’s memory.

The charity Remember My Baby, which provides remembrance photography free of charge to parents facing the loss of their child, took photos of Jade with her parents and brother Elijah at Demelza hospice, in Eltham, south-east London. (Remember My Baby/PA)

“She opened our eyes up to these beautiful humans that I hope that we can continue to celebrate for as long as we live.

“I just remember watching them thinking they’re almost like angels.

“I don’t know how they do it.

“They’re just beautiful, beautiful humans.”

The couple also praised the selflessness of staff who rushed in, despite the Covid-19 risk, to deliver and revive Jade when her heart rate dropped.

“The room full of people had put their lives on the line to save our little girl,” said Ms Nash.

Jade at Evelina London Children\u2019s Hospital (Family handout/PA)

Jade suffered Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) during her birth so had significant brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

Mr Flanagan said there are children like Jade even in times without Covid-19 and the emotional impact on staff was “huge”.

He said the family is fundraising for clinical psychologists so staff have somebody to talk to and things like wellbeing hubs and tea trollies where midwives, nurses and doctors can go after a very demanding situation to relax and “try and understand what they’ve just been through”.

“So that’s really what we wanted to do, to try and care for the carers.”

Claire Nash with her daughter Jade (Family handout/PA)

The Virgin Money London Marathon on October 3 will be the fourth challenge for Mr Flanagan who completed the Brighton Marathon on September 12 and will run the Goodwood Marathon on September 26.

He will also run the Little Peacock Marathon on September 19, along a route taking in the places where Jade spent her short life.

The couple and son Elijah, five, used the nickname Little Peacock before Jade was born and Peacock became her middle name.

They will run the London Marathon in peacock-themed outfits.

Mr Flanagan has previously run the London, Brighton and Berlin marathons but this will be Ms Nash’s first although she hopes to join parts of the Little Peacock run.

Wayne Flanagan greeting well-wishers including son Elijah, five, during the Brighton Marathon on September 12 (Family handout/PA)

“There’s a lot of landmarks along the London Marathon race that have significance in Jade’s life.

“The evenings that we drove back from the hospital from Evelina, we would cross Tower Bridge to get to ours and obviously, that’s the halfway point for the London Marathon.

“It’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster.

“I’m going to be a blubbering mess.

“But I’m really hoping that people will see Jade’s name on our shirts and shout Jade’s name and I think that’s going to give me a massive boost.”

Jade with her father (Family handout/PA)

She added: “I remember when Jade passed, one of the early thoughts that I had is that I don’t want to get to the end of my time and look back and not appreciate the significance of what I feel she’s given and what she’s taught us.”

Ms Nash said the couple want to do all they can to ensure that Jade is “always remembered”.

Mr Flanagan said they also want “to show Elijah that it’s OK to be sad when sad things happen”.

“But that also there can be some kind of good that comes with it.”

He started running regularly in January, often with a friend who was “a great listener”, and found it “really cathartic”.

“I found it a way of channelling my grief, of starting to try to understand the emotions and feelings that I was experiencing.”

Wayne Flanagan during the London Landmarks Half Marathon on August 1 2021 (Family handout/PA)

Mr Flanagan has since joined Kent AC running club which trains at Ladywell Fields running track in the shadow of Lewisham Hospital.

He decided to use running to help the wellbeing of the staff who had cared for Jade and her family after seeing the impact on them “and the pain that they were feeling for Jade and for us as a family”.

Lottie McElhinney, care team leader at Demelza’s South East London hospice, said: “No parent should ever have to go through what Wayne and Claire did, but their incredible fundraising efforts will ensure Demelza can be there for other local families in the future.

“We are so grateful to The Flying Peacocks and wish them lots of luck in their four marathon challenge in memory of Jade.”

Margarita Vidiella, head of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Charity, said: “We are touched that, despite their huge loss, Claire and Wayne are thinking of others by running marathons in memory of their daughter Jade Peacock.

“Their fundraising efforts will help us fund important staff wellbeing initiatives, such as improving rest areas for frontline staff, and we are truly grateful for everything they are doing.”

– To donate to fundraising in Jade’s memory visit:

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