A CHIPPENHAM father undertook a gruelling 24 hour tennis-a-thon over the weekend to raise money for a charity who helped support his family when his new born son was rushed into the operating theatre last year.

John O’Meara, who armed himself with a racquet at Chippenham Sports Club on Friday, raised more than £2,500 for Cots for Tots after the charity provided the father-of-two and his wife Jemma with a place to stay in Bristol when their two-day-old son Fergus had to have emergency surgery at a specialist unit St Michael’s Hospital last year.

“My son was born and needed an unexpected emergency operation two days later and Cots for Tots supported us and put us in a room close to the hospital,” the 40-year-old, who works at Dalehead Foods, said. “This allowed us to be at his bedside 24/7 but also have a place to freshen up, grab a coffee, make some food or take a nap. For this we will be forever grateful.

“I wanted to raise some money for the charity to thank them for their support and although there are other challenges out there, I wanted to do something I enjoy.

“It went really well and I didn’t really get tired throughout the event but my movement definitely became a bit restricted towards the end.”

Mr O’Meara has raised more than £2,500 for the charity so far which will go towards helping purchase life-saving equipment for babies in Bristol and the South West, the continued provision of four cots in an intensive care suits in St Michaels and the 12-bedroom house for the use of families of patients.

“The figure is still climbing,” he said. “I didn’t think we would ever get to that level as my original target was £1,500 so we are really happy with that!”

Although Fergus, who is now 18 months old, is doing well, the dad-of-two may consider more fundraisers in the future.

For more information or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/John-O-Meara.