Samantha Williams, Oliver Williams, Noah Williams, Arthur Williams, Matthew Williams Credit: Samantha Williams

Family take on 24 challenges in 2024 to thank hospital for saving their baby 

If Noah’s Ark hadn’t been there for us, Arthur might not have been with us today, says mum 

A FAMILY is taking on 24 gruelling fitness challenges in 2024, including a marathon and an Ironman swim, to raise money for life-saving equipment at the hospital that saved their baby. 

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity appealed for help to raise £300,000 for three transport incubators, four ventilators, and eight incubators for the neonatal intensive care unit. 

When Samantha Williams, 29, of Heath, and her husband Matthew Williams, 33, saw the appeal they decided to take on the fitness challenges and have already raised £1,310. 

Baby Arthur is now a healthy active one-year-old, but he had a “bumpy start to life”. 

Baby Arthur Williams as a newborn and now a health one-year-old. Credit: Samantha Williams

The 5lb 9oz baby boy was born two-and-a-half weeks early with extreme jaundice by an emergency C-section. 

He had to be rushed to a neonatal intensive care unit at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales. 

“He was so little and had tubes coming out of him everywhere – it was such a scary time,” said Mrs Williams, who works in NHS recruitment. 

Mr Williams has a universal blood type, so when Mrs Williams was pregnant with Arthur, her white blood cells saw him as a foreign body and started to attack him. 

When he was born, Arthur’s blood had four-and-a-half times the normal range of bilirubin leaving him jaundiced. 

If left untreated he was at risk of developing a type of brain damage called kernicterus which can also cause athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss.  

He received two blood transfusions and life-saving phototherapy to reduce his bilirubin levels to a healthy level. 

“If they didn’t have the equipment and tools, they wouldn’t be able to save babies’ lives which they do every day.

“Arthur is at that age now when he looks at you and starts yapping away, no idea what he’s talking about.

“But you wouldn’t look at him and think he had that bumpy start to life, which is everything you can hope for,” said Mrs Williams

Matthew Williams and Samantha Williams. Credit: Samantha Williams 

The couple have been trying to get fit for the last eight years but found it difficult while raising children. The fundraiser has given them a “real push” to do it, said Mr Williams. 

“There would have been no way in hell I would have run a marathon, I thought you should only run if someone were chasing you. 

“I went from running for two minutes to doing 5K in four weeks. If the two of us can do it, anyone can,” said Mr Williams. 

“I work from home and the challenge has helped me get outside more,” said Mrs Williams. 

In January, the couple ran 100K in a month by running 2.3K each day but they will each be completing different challenges from the list. 

“We did not just want to do one challenge. We thought if we are going to do it, we want to raise as much as we can,” said Mrs Williams. 

Other challenges include:  

  • Run 100k in a month 
  • 800m swim for Sam 
  • One hour swim in endless pool for Matt   
  • 2,024 squats in a month 
  • One-mile open water swim around Nells point, Jackson’s Bay.   
  • The full Taff trail walk (50 miles) in a day. 
  • 750m open water swim 
  • Wales Full Marathon 
  • Cardiff Half Marathon 
  • Mountain Trail Half Marathon 
  • Pen Y Fan midnight walk   
  • 12km Endless Pool swim   
  • Aquathlon (750m swim & 5km run)   
  • Noah’s Ark Superhero Dash 
  • Ironman Swim (3.8km Open Water)
Oliver Williams, Noah Wiliams, and Matthew Williams. Credit: Samantha Williams 

Mr Williams is a swimming instructor at Heathwood Swimming in Cardiff Bay who teaches adults new to swimming. He will be doing the Wales Marathon in Tenby and an Ironman swim on the same weekend in June. 

“Anyone can do it. You just need to figure out why you are doing it and what you are doing it for. 

“We’ve lived it, we’ve seen what the money does, that’s our motivation,” said Mr Williams.

Samantha Williams, Oliver Williams, Noah Williams, Arthur Williams, Matthew Williams. Credit: Samantha Williams

Community fundraising manager for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital, Kath Fisher said: “We are so grateful to the Williams family for taking on this mammoth challenge.  

“It means that the unit where Arthur received his care will have more of the life-saving equipment that supported him through his initial bumpy start to life.   

“It’s so lovely to see how we’ll he’s doing now and we would again like to say the biggest thank-you to them for the amazing amount of money they’ve raised.” 

  • To donate to the Williams family’s fundraiser click here.