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Long Stratton toddler with heart condition climbs staircase 125 times in Captain Tom-esque fundraiser

A toddler with congenital heart disease has raised more than £1,000 for charity by climbing the staircase at his home 125 times.

Little Phineas Bennett, who was born with six heart defects, has been fundraising for children’s heart charity Tiny Tickers by climbing the set of stairs at his home in Long Stratton.

The determined youngster, who is not yet two, made the return journey up and down the 13-step staircase 25 times a day last week, before reaching his target of 125 on Saturday – a nod to the daily number of children in the UK born with serious heart conditions like his.

Phin, pictured with his mum, Verity Bennett Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.
Phin, pictured with his mum, Verity Bennett Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.

He has been buoyed on by the support of his siblings, Issac, eight, Asher, four, and his twin sister, Hope, who have not only provided moral support but even been tasked with keeping tally of his trips.

His mum, 41-year-old Verity, who works as a project manager at Norfolk County Council, said: “He doesn’t have a clue, but his big brothers do, and they are really proud, because they are aware of what he’s been through.

“We had to make it into a game, so we were giving him bath toys and getting him to take them upstairs.

20-monthold Phin was born with multiple holes in his heart. (44501579)
20-monthold Phin was born with multiple holes in his heart. (44501579)

“But his brothers were getting involved, too, and Isaac was keeping a tally on the blackboard.”

Born on May 14 in 2019, at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Phineas – who also goes by ‘Phin’ – had multiple holes in his heart and was missing a pulmonary artery. He has already had four major operations, including open-heart surgery.

The £1,250 raised so for Tiny Tickers will go towards supporting other ‘heart families’ – families that have a child with a serious heart condition.

Mrs Bennett, who lives in Ice House Court with her husband and Wicks store manager Chris, also 41, added: “We are part of their parenting group – it’s all other heart families, and it’s huge knowing that you’re not alone.

“We did a bake sale last year and raised £400 for them, and I didn’t think we would get anywhere near that this time around.

“We’re just really surprised about how people have supported it. It started off with friends giving a few pounds here and there, and it’s really taken off.

“We were blown away, it’s really touching how generous people have been.”

Kym Kitching, fundraising manager at Tiny Tickers, said they were overwhelmed by the amount of money Phin had raised for the charity, which has been hampered by the ongoing pandemic.

She said: “We’ve been blown away by Phin’s amazing fundraiser.

“At only 20 months, he’s already helping to make a big difference to babies with poorly hearts across the UK.

“The charity sector has been hit quite hard by the pandemic and our small charity is one of many that are facing an uphill battle.

“But thanks to families like Phin’s, we’ve been able to carry on. We will be forever grateful.”

To donate to Phin’s fundraiser, click here.

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