ON January 9, 2013, Richard and Lydia Hobden’s lives changed forever.

Lydia suffered a sudden heart attack at home. She was rushed to Basildon Hospital fighting for her own life and the life of their unborn son – she was 24 weeks and six days pregnant.

Within minutes of her arrival, Richard was told Lydia would neded an emergency caesarean section to have any chance of surviving.

Doctors warned Richard that both lives could be lost in the next five minutes.

Noah Robert Hobden arrived at 8.15am, weighing one pound 15 ounces – 15 weeks earlier than expected.

Following a mammoth effort from a 52-person strong accident and emergency team, both Lydia and Noah were given a fighting chance at life.

They were whisked off to respective adult and neonatal intensive care units. Noah had to be transferred to the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, by special baby ambulance.

Following an induced coma, Lydia thankfully awoke two days later to the news she was the proud mum of Noah.

She was discharged from hospital 12 days later. Her heart attack was attributed to a blood clot and a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

After leaving hospital the couple, who live in Billericay, went to Noah’s bedside at the Royal London Hospital.

Richard said: “We were warned regularly by nurses and doctors we were in for a rollercoaster ride.

There is no more apt a metaphor, for the highs and lows we experienced on the neonatal ward.

“The initial shock at the rows of incubators, then at our son in one of them – a baby so small, covered in so many tubes and wires, reliant on so many machines and medicines to keep him alive.

“The sound of monitors, alarms and buzzers was constant. We came to learn that sometimes theywere a source of comfort, but they could also quickly become a source of anguish and concern.”

During their time on the ward Richard and Lydia kept vigil at Noah’s bedside.

Richard adds: “Noah was one of the youngest premature babies on the ward when he arrived. He developed a devoted following of nurses and doctors, who came to know his personality and his many abilities.

“Noah was able to get attention at will, principally by holding his breath or by dislodging his breathing tube. These all secured him the nickname ‘Naughty Noah’.

“Our little guy had tricks in spades, but ultimately his biggest trick of all was to fool us all into thinking he was developing and getting better. He had endeared himself so deeply on to the ward that he was genuinely loved. All who came in contact with him willed him on, full of hope, believing he would be OK.

“Sadly, on day 90, following a series of routine tests, we were told Noah’s brain had failed to develop and he suffered a significant degree of brain damage. His extreme prematurity had prevented the medical staff from doing these tests earlier.

“The results were checked and double-checked by top doctors in the field. These findings would mean our little boy would never leave hospital. As parents we were faced with the toughest decision of our lives.”

A day later, on April 10, 2013, Noah passed away peacefully and with dignity in his dad’s arms.

Our baby’s death inspired £100,000 of fundraising.

CHANGED by their experience and tragedy, Richard and Lydia vowed to turn what has been a traumatic event into something positive.

The Hobdens decided to begin a charity in Noah’s memory and to give something back to the hospitals and their staff and to help other babies and their families.

Richard said: “People deal with things in different ways. You can curl up into a ball, but we’re just not like that, we want to get out there and help others, even if it means running a marathon, or a triathlon. If we can help other parents who are going through what we went through, it’s worth it.”

He praised the staff at the hospitals that helped care for Noah and Lydia; “Despite everything we hear about the NHS when it works, it works well. The staff were fantastic and Lydia wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the hospital staff.

“We were inspired by Noah. His fight and determination was incredible, but the support we had from friends, family and the medical teams was just as inspiring.

“Shortly after losing Noah, I said I wanted to raise money and begin to hold events and asked for support from friends, family and the hospitals. Everybody supported us.

“I had no idea of the work involved and how many charities there are in the UK. I think there are around 300,000. The name we decided on for the charity is Noah’s Big Charity, because when Noah was in the neonatal unit we ran a blog called Noah’s big adventure, because inaway it was his adventure.

Noah’s big charity was registered as a charity in October 2013, and the Hobden’s have been raising money through various marathons and events since.

The couple’s charity has so far raised £100,000 for the Basildon Hospital neonatal unit and the Royal London Hospital neonatal unit. All the money raised by the Hobden’s and their supportive following goes towards new equipment, treatment and research for babies in intensive care.

In May the Hobden’s presented Basildon Hospital’s neonatal unit with seven pieces of new equipment to help treat sick babies. The couple donated £10,000 which was added to by the members of the Brentwood a Becket Rotary club who kindly donated £2,000, to purchase the life-changing equipment.

Richard and Lydia hold fundraising events throughout the year to continue providing support for other sick babies and intensive care units in Basildon Hospital and the Royal London Hospital.

To find out more, visit noah sbigcharity.com Alternatively you can send a cheque to Noah’s Big Charity c/o 294 Perry Street, Billericay, CM12 0RB