The tough world of rugby union will melt for a day in the Deepings when an eight-month old baby will be in the front row.
Layla Hughes will be the centre of attention at Deepings Rugby Club’s annual memorial day to be held at Linchfield Road, Deeping St James, on Saturday, May 21.
The day’s highlight will be a charity game of touch rugby in aid of The Sick Children’s Trust which helped Layla’s parents, Tom and Chelsey Hughes, of Northborough, near Market Deeping, when she needed life-saving heart surgery last Christmas.
Denham Hughes (51) of Langtoft, Layla’s grandfather and organiser of the memorial day, said: “When Layla was born last September, she weighed just 4lbs 12oz and doctors found two holes in her heart.
“She needed specialist surgery last Christmas from which Layla made a miraculous recovery, six days earlier than expected.
“But Tom and Chelsey had the added stress of finding accommodation so they could be with Layla throughout the rest of her treatment.
“Due to the high intake of sick children at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Layla had her surgery, only one parent can be accommodated with a bed on the ward.
“Fortunately, Tim and Chelsey were very lucky that The Sick Children’s Trust stepped in and gave him a place to stay so that he could be with Layla and Chelsey.”
Denham is hoping the memorial day, which also includes a president’s lunch, veteran’s and seniors games, auction of sporting memorabilia, curry night and disco, will raise some of the £2,750 he has pledged to bring in for The Sick Children’s Trust.
“It was mid-morning on Christmas Day when we got the news that Layla had exceeded expectations and was out of intensive care, which was brilliant,” Denham said.
“Layla’s recovery was absolutely astonishing and we think that was partly down to the fact her mum and dad were so close by and could be there every day.
“My granddaughter made it home just five days after her operation and has been doing incredibly well since then.
“Layla doesn’t have a feeding tube anymore and we can take her out in the pram to show her off to the world without worrying whether she could get ill.
“It was stressful situation, both as a grandad and a dad, because I always want to be able to fix things.
“This was something I couldn’t fix but The Sick Children’s Trust helped us all with managing that stress and worry.
“That’s why I am determined to hit my fundraising target and I’ll just keep going until I do.”
Mark Owen, chairman of Deepings Rugby Club, said: “We have a president’s memorial day to remember everybody who we’ve lost since the club was founded and also a charity that we donate funds to throughout the year.
“But this year, we’re bringing the two things together and so we want people to come down and raise money for Denham’s chosen charity.
“The day will include a sponsored touch rugby match at half-time of the President’s XV v Invitational XV match when members of the rugby club will be doing some coaching as well.
“We’ve turned the whole day into more of a social event because people associated with the club are affected by different things and so we want to support them.”
You can help Denham and donate to The Sick Children’s trust by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/denhamhughes/