Great North Runner raising funds for Tiny Lives, inspired by her own premature birth at only 27 weeks

Jessica Cartner now, training hard for the Great North Run (GNR19, Tiny Lives Trust)

Jess Cartner was born 3-months prematurely and has battled with lung issues, but is now taking on the Great North Run to raise funds for other premature and sick babies at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Fawdon-based Jess caused quite a shock to her parents when she arrived into the world 3-months-earlier than expected at Sunderland Royal Hospital, weighing just under 2lbs. From there, Jess was transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) and began her lengthy stay on the Neonatal Unit. She eventually went home after 3 months, leaving on what would have been her original due date.

Now 23-years-old, Jess has chosen to tackle the iconic Great North Run half-marathon – which is taking place on Sunday 8th September 2019 –  to raise money for Newcastle-based charity The Tiny Lives Trust. Tiny Lives supports over 750 premature and sick babies and their families on the RVI’s Neonatal Unit each year, supplying developmental aids, financial assistance, funding of specialist staff member positions and more.

Jessica Cartner on the Neonatal Unit (GNR19, Tiny Lives Trust) (2)

The Great North Run will be a truly demanding challenge for Jess. As with many premature babies, Jess struggled with lung issues; having to use a breathing machine at home before moving onto an inhaler aged 7. Speaking about the run, Jess said: “My breathing is better than it was as I exercise regularly, but it’s still a work in progress for me; especially when it comes to running. So, I want to really challenge myself with the Great North Run.”

Jess’s parents, Robert George and Sandra Cartner, can find it difficult to talk about their daughter’s tough start to life, but are very proud of her for taking on this amazing feat, saying: We’re over the moon that she’s doing this for babies that have had a difficult start, like Jess did. She’s come a long way from weighing 2lb at birth to now taking part in a race for a worthy cause, to which we will always be grateful.”

Louise Carroll, Community and Events Fundraiser at The Tiny Lives Trust said: “We were so touched when we heard about Jess’s amazing story and are so grateful to her for taking on the Great North Run on behalf of Tiny Lives. Every mile she manages will make a huge difference to babies and their families on the RVI Neonatal Unit and we know she’ll do amazingly well!

Jess added: “I want to run for Tiny Lives as they’re an amazing charity and I want to help support other premature and poorly babies and their families. I want to show them, and myself, what’s possible.”

Jess has set up a Just Giving page as part of her Great North Run fundraising: