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RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL NEWS: Frankie presented with 41st runner honours in the Randox Grand National

Press Release 15th April 2023 Aintree

By James Leyfield

Frankie, who is just over a year old, was presented with the 41st runner honour at the 2023 Randox Grand National at Aintree on Grand National Day.

Frankie and his mum Jessica were joined by jockey Rachael Blackmore and former jockeys AP McCoy and Barry Geraghty on the podium in the Winners' Enclosure to celebrate Frankie taking up the Alder Hey Children's Charity's honorary place as number 41 in the Grand National race.

Jessica said: "It's absolutely incredible that he's the 41st Runner. We were quite shocked when we found out, and we felt quite honoured to be honest, because it's a mad thing you wouldn't even think about.

"It's amazing being here at Aintree today. We've never been before, so to be such a big part of it as well with Frankie, it's magical to be here with the family. It's really nice.

"He doesn't know much, but we'll always remember and we'll have pictures and videos of today. It will be a nice thing to show him when he's older.

"Everyone looks so amazing, and Frankie loves looking around at all the people here in their amazing dresses and suits.

"It was amazing to meet Rachael Blackmore, I was trying to calm myself down."
Frankie was born in March 2022. Prior to his birth he had been diagnosed with gastroschisis which meant he would be born with his bowels on the outside of his stomach and surgery to fix this would be needed within hours of birth.

Gastroschisis is a rare condition which affects only 1 in 3,000 babies. These operations can only be done in a specialised children’s hospital with full paediatric surgery facilities such as Alder Hey in Liverpool, so Frankie and his family had to leave their local hospital and make the trip to an unfamiliar environment.

Jessica was delighted to be able to support the Alder Hey Children's Charity at Aintree on Grand National Day.

She said: "We're really grateful to be here. It's such a big, massive part of Alder Hey and I feel like we're giving back in a way.

"Alder Hey have done so much for Frankie and so many other children, and it's just nice to be helping with the charity, just to try to give back to them.

"Nothing will compare to the stuff that they've done for Frankie, but it's a nice feeling to be here and to support them wherever and whenever we can.

"Frankie is doing really well, he's doing really, amazingly well. It's all thanks to Alder Hey. I feel like you have to be a special type of person to work there.

"All the nurses, the cleaners, the reception staff - they all care. There was something about them, they wanted to be there. That was lovely, because there were times when we did have to go home and leave him for a little bit, but there was never a doubt in our minds that he was always safe in that hospital."

The 41st runner initiative came about as a result of the partnership between Alder Hey Children’s Charity and Aintree Racecourse.

Last year’s 41st runner was then four year old Betty Batt, who was born more than four month premature weighing just 650 grams and spent the first 13 months of her life in hospital, primarily at Alder Hey.



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