Special care baby unit gave me appetite for life

16 year old Joshua Walton at the Woodburn Road stadium
16 year old Joshua Walton at the Woodburn Road stadium

Joshua lives in Crookes with his mum, older brother Ben, younger sister Rebekah and Ziggy the chocolate Labrador. He will be 16 next week, although, as you will read, he nearly didn’t make it this far. He is in Y11 at Tapton School. His GCSEs are looming, as are big decisions about his future. He loves to run and will miss Don Valley Stadium. When he is not running he spends a lot of his time peering into the fridge and saying ‘What is there to eat?’

Special Care Baby Unit

Before I was born doctors said I had a one-in-100 chance of survival. I was waterlogged due to heart failure because of severe anaemia. To save my life treatment had to start immediately, but they hadn’t time to get any test results. I had about 24 hours. My family were warned I might be handicapped. Everyone who knew my family started to pray. I was given four blood transfusions in the womb and I was born eight weeks early. I was ventilated and put in intensive care in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Northern General where I stayed for two months. Until he retired three years earlier, my grandfather was one of the paediatricians in the unit. I think it is amazing what doctors - and prayer - can do for such tiny babies. I spent the next year throwing up everything I was given to eat. Perhaps that’s why I’m slightly obsessed with eating. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m always ravenous like all teenage boys.

Hallamshire Harriers

It all started one Saturday morning aged nine when I volunteered to run for Lydgate Junior School in the Sheffield Schools cross country competitions. The first race was at

Ecclesfield School. There were about 160 boys and a huge crowd of cheering parents. I came eighth, and my love of running had begun. I joined Hallamshire Harriers aged 11. I’ve had two HH coaches in the last four years, Neil then Keith. Both have put endless hours of hard work and encouragement into helping me and many others. HH has given me a group of friends from all over the city and a great level of fitness. Running enhances my mood, has fulfilled an element of my Duke of Edinburgh award and helped me with GCSE PE. I now train six times a week including at such inspiring places as Don Valley and the EIS. Don Valley is a fantastic place to run and I think it is so sad that a city of sport is losing this facility, but at least we still have the Woodbourn Road 400 metre outdoor track. I’ll never make the Olympics like Tapton and Hallamshire Harrier Seb Coe, but I’ve run for Sheffield and for South Yorkshire several times.

Henderson’s Relish

I think it was my brother, Ben, who introduced me to Henderson’s Relish. We love it and even take it on holiday with us! It goes with lots of food, but I particularly like to liberally sprinkle it on to my signature dish - baked beans on toast.

Hot Chocolate at Remo’s

I don’t drink coffee or tea, so hot chocolate is my beverage of choice in a café. After extensive research over several years, I feel Remo’s in Broomhill serves my personal favourite.

My History teacheR

This is probably not a cool thing for a teenager to pick and publish, but my history teacher at Tapton has totally inspired me academically. You know who you are, Sir! Your passion and enthusiasm for history has been infectious. Although I intend to study sciences in the sixth form, I’ve found my GCSE history lessons awesome.


Every Friday night loads of us go to Defined at St. Thomas’ Crookes. Great community, great fun and a great place to think about how you want to live your life. During February half term we went to the unlikely named Boggle Hole Youth Hostel and in the summer we are off camping at Soul Survivor with thousands of others. We have great youth leaders (mostly named Dan!).

Barretts, Crookes

The sandwiches are brilliant! On balance, my favourite is the red cabbage and shredded beef washed down with a fizzy lemonade.


This is my favourite treat-for-a-birthday restaurant. I like the setting, close to the Winter Gardens. The pizzas are delicious and large, which means I often get to finish my little sister Rebekah’s too!