Fundraising father thanks TV presenter for tweet that created ‘minor miracle’
A father fundraising for charity in memory of his daughter said the response to a TV presenter sharing his story on social media had been a “minor miracle”.
BT Sport host Jake Humphrey went on Twitter on Sunday to promote Ross Coniam’s #Nine4Norah charitable campaign.
Mr Humphrey sent out a series of tweets after spotting the appeal on the back of Mr Coniam’s jumper while he watched the FA Cup semi-final between Watford and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Wembley.
Mr Coniam, who set up a GoFundMe page in December, aims to take on nine physical challenges in 2019 for charity and in memory of his daughter Norah who died just hours after being born in May last year.
Before Mr Humphrey’s tweet the appeal had raised £3,058 of a £6,000 goal, but by Tuesday afternoon nearly 2,000 people had together donated more than £27,000.
“It’s something magical that happened on Sunday,” said 36-year-old Mr Coniam.
“I think if I was three rows in front or six to the other side I might not have been seen.
“It’s a minor miracle.”
He added: “It seems surreal how I happened to be in that seat and he was behind me.
“For him to actually read it and take an interest is unbelievable.”
Mr Coniam, from Watford, admitted to being left “speechless” by the money flowing in from “the kindness of random strangers”.
“It just seems to tick over all the time, I half expect it to stop at any point and wake up and see it’s not real,” he said.
On Twitter he thanked Mr Humphrey for his “act of kindness”, with the TV presenter saying “it wasn’t the hoodie, it wasn’t Wembley. It was Norah”.
Mr Humphrey had earlier tweeted to say he was left “shedding a little tear” after researching Mr Coniam’s story during the football match.
“Seeing this support does make me feel proud,” said Mr Coniam, who works as an operations manager for his family’s specialist coating products business.
He added: “We always said with Norah during pregnancy, this girl will change lives, and now after what’s happened she’s changing thousands of people’s lives.”
A life-long Watford fan, Mr Coniam said his family had close links to the club, with his mother working in the ticket office in the 1980s.
With the anniversary of Norah’s death approaching, Mr Coniam admitted he and his wife Naomi still have “good days and bad days”.
But he also revealed the couple are excited to be expecting another baby due later this year.
Mr Coniam, who receives counselling support, hopes that his fundraising appeal will also raise awareness of the importance of talking about bereavement.
He has found a support network by playing football with Sands United FC, an initiative that brings together bereaved dads and other family members through sport.
Mr Coniam’s fundraising activities first began in 2015 following the death of his 10-year-old nephew Kieran the year before.
“Dads don’t really talk. Men hold things in,” he said.
Mr Coniam added: “I’m quite open to talking to people and that’s what more men need really.
“You can’t keep stuff like that in, I did for a while but you have to talk about it.”
Mr Coniam’s nine challenges include the London Marathon, the Isle of Wight 106km Ultra Challenge, the London to Brighton Bike Ride, the Three Peaks Challenge and a 135 mile walk that will end at Norah’s grave.
He is raising cash for stillbirth and neonatal death charities Sands and 4Louis, the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust and Keech Hospice Care.
Mr Coniam said: “I’m doing this for all the mums and dads that have lost.
“It’s not just about me running a marathon it’s about other people.”
To donate visit uk.gofundme.com/nine4norah.