Running for his boys – Paul Masters runs 365 miles for three local charities that helped his family through the heartbreak of losing his baby boys.

Paul Masters and his wife Siobhan, from Chinnor in Oxfordshire, experienced unbelievable heartbreak in August 2020 when they lost their twin baby boys, James and Ryan.

James was stillborn on August 5th at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and his twin brother, Ryan, was born seriously ill.

The babies were transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where Ryan was looked after on the Newborn Intensive Care Unit before sadly passing away nine days later, at Helen & Douglas House Hospice.

Throughout this desperate time, Paul and Siobhan were given support by hospital and hospice staff, and from three local charities; Oxford Hospitals Charity, SSNAP (Support for Sick Newborns and their Parents) and Helen & Douglas House.

The family spent time in the Ashfield Suite at the John Radcliffe Hospital, which provides a quiet space equipped with cooling cots, meaning they could take their time saying goodbye to James, while Ryan was kept close by in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.  Here they received extra support as Ryan fought valiantly before being moved to Helen & Douglas House, where they were looked after during his final days and given support following his death.

To thank those who were there to help his family at this critical time, Paul decided that he would run 365 miles over 365 days raising funds in memory of his boys to help other local families faced with similar heartbreak.

On Sunday 21st November he will run his final mile, from the John Radcliffe Hospital to Helen & Douglas House Hospice in Oxford, where he will be joined by friends, family and representatives of each of the charities as he completes his challenge.

Paul said his epic run has been his way of showing his appreciation for the charities that cared for his family in their darkest hours.

He explains: ‘Without the support of these charities I honestly don’t know how we would’ve got through what I can only describe as the most awful and challenging time.’

‘I know that much of the help we have received is directly thanks to these charities and so this is my way of saying thank you to them for letting us have that extra time with our boys which will always be treasured, and for the care and kindness they have shown us throughout.

‘I can't believe I'm finally within touching distance of the end of my challenge. It's been an amazing journey right from day one when I realised that I couldn't actually run a mile, through to now, when I'm this close to finishing all 365. There were many days where it was hard to stay motivated and keep going especially when it was freezing cold outside but then thinking about my boys has kept me going’

Paul has already raised over £20,000 in memory of his sons – and hopes that his final mile on Sunday 21st November will help him raise even more for the three local charities that mean so much to him and Siobhan.  

The funds he raises will provide vital funds to help the charities continue to support other families who experience the loss of a baby.

Andrea Baganz-Pritchard from Helen & Douglas House said ‘We cannot thank Paul enough for taking on this amazing challenge so soon after the loss of James and Ryan. We are so glad we could and continue to support Paul and Siobhan through something no parent should have to bear, the loss of a child.‘

Martin Realey, Charity Lead for SSNAP said: ‘We feel extremely privileged to be one of the chosen charities for 'Running for the Boys.' Paul and his wife Siobhan are truly inspirational, and we will forever be grateful to Paul for taking on this incredible 365 mile challenge, in memory of their precious twin boys, James and Ryan.'

Douglas Graham, CEO of Oxford Hospitals Charity, added: ‘Paul and Siobhan’s courage through such heartbreak is truly inspirational and this incredible support for these special local charities will ensure that the legacy of their little boys will help many families for years to come.’