Rugby physio and family undertaking Stride For Simpsons charity challenge

Edinburgh Rugby physio Jamie Coffey and family are behind the Stride For Simpsons fund raising challenge
©Jamie Coffey

Jamie Coffey is used to helping others in his role as an Edinburgh Rugby physio, but when he and his wife Emma needed support in 2021, it was the Simpsons Special Baby Unit who helped them.

The couple’s twin boys, Campbell and Hamish, surprised everyone when they made an early appearance at just 28 weeks gestation on June 27 last year.

Weighing in at only 1090g and 1070g each, they both required immediate emergency care from the medical team in the labour unit at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary before being transferred to the Simpsons Special Baby Unit where they were intubated and ventilated.

The twins spent a total of 80 days under the care of experts where they experienced skill and compassion from every member of staff involved.

“We knew that when we left the unit each night to try and get some rest, the boys could not be in a safer environment,” Coffey, 35, told TRU.

“Before the boys were in the unit, myself and Emma did not know much about the Simpsons Special Baby Unit and what it did and we were obviously anxious and a bit scared.

“There was a lot to take in in the first few days, but the staff there were just so friendly, welcoming and understanding and as the weeks went by, we could see that the boys were getting stronger and were in the best place to do that. That really put our minds at ease.

“When the boys eventually got home to meet their big brother Ruaridh [who is now three] it was just a magical moment and the last few months as a family of five has had its ups and downs, but the boys continue to grow and get stronger and it is a joy to have them around.

“The position we are in now to move forwards positively with our lives with the boys having turned one would not have been possible without the Simpsons Special Baby Unit.”

The challenge: “It really will be a family affair for sure”

Whilst the boys were in the unit, Jamie and Emma found out about the Simpsons Special Baby Unit Charity for the first time.

The charity supports the wonderful work of the unit in many ways from funding specialist equipment to staff training and research.

It also supports families in smaller, yet equally meaningful, ways such as the provision of milestone cards and inked footprints to a remote and video site which allows parents to have a direct link to the babies.

Amazing work everyone would agree and once the dust had settled on the twins’ time in the unit, Jamie and Emma started to think of ways they could support the charity.

And, as from Saturday just gone, the wider Coffey family has embarked on a 450-mile fund-raising challenge - Stride For Simpsons - which is due to run until July 28.

They are going to hike, run, swim and cycle across Scotland from Gretna Green to John o’ Groats to raise money for premature and sick babies born in Scotland - so who came up with the idea?

“It was actually my sister Emily who came up with the challenge in the first place,” Coffey, who has been working as a physio with Scottish Rugby in various guises since 2012, explains.

“She said ‘why don’t we do the length of Scotland’ which took some of us aback at first, but over the recent months, we have got our heads around it and numerous people will be taking part in the challenge in the coming days. It really will be a family affair for sure.”

Just to give readers a taste of what will be going on, members of the team started the challenge on Saturday by cycling 65 miles to Lesmahagow from Gretna Green.

On Sunday, they were due to be cycling 34 miles to Milngavie to the start of the West Highland Way and this week until Friday the team will move from two wheels to two feet, walking the 95 miles of the famous West Highland Way.

Ben Nevis will be taken on this coming Saturday with Sunday bringing a nine-mile jog to Gairlochy and a nine-mile swim up Loch Lochy to Laggan Locks at the other end.

Next Monday, the team will run 30 miles up the Great Glen along the banks of Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit before - between next Tuesday and Thursday - cycling 160-mile up to the most northerly part of the UK at John O’ Groats.

“The work this charity undertakes supports parents when they are at their lowest”

It sounds like Jamie - who played social rugby for Perthshire and Crieff & Strathearn when he was younger - and co will have a tougher pre-season than many pro rugby players then.

But it will all be worth it: “Our aim is to raise funds, as a gesture of our appreciation, for all of the wonderful support which we received during Campbell and Hamish’s time on the unit. Via the charity, we want to help the unit to support research in neonatal care, fund state-of-the-art equipment and enable staff to undergo further training in the care of special babies.

“The work this charity undertakes supports parents when they are at their lowest point and experiencing the most challenging times in life.”

Charity auction: Bid for Zander Fagerson’s boots - and more!

To help with the fundraising, Jamie and the family have set up a charity auction online which anyone can get involved with.

There are some great prizes for rugby lovers in there including a mascot experience at the Scotland versus Argentina game coming up in the Autumn at BT Murrayfield plus two adult tickets, a British & Irish Lions jersey from the 2021 tour signed by the Scottish players and coaches who were in South Africa and tighthead prop Zander Fagerson’s boots.

To read more about the auction prizes, visit

And has all the information on the challenge and other ways you can donate