Former footballers’ new goal of supporting our charity’s Children’s Fund

A team of former Garstang FC players have a new goal – completing the National Three Peaks in 24 hours to raise funds for Lancashire Teaching Hospital Charity’s Children’s Fund.

When they set out to climb Ben Nevis on Friday, 3rd May, followed by Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon, they will be led by ex centre half Joe Miller (34), who is also a former reserve team co-manager.

Taking on the challenge is Joe’s idea – his way of saying thank you to the doctors and nurses on the Royal Preston Hospital’s Children’s Ward, who saved the life of his baby daughter Isobel.

Isobel turns one on 17th March but last April, aged just five weeks old, she was battling to survive after being diagnosed with viral meningitis.

Joe, a joiner by trade and dad also to Georgina (four) and Louie (two), said: “Isobel didn’t wake up for her feed so my wife Emily went to check on her.

“Emily woke Isobel but she wouldn’t take her milk and she didn’t look well. We were told by 111 to take Isobel to hospital where she was admitted on to the Children’s Ward. Initially, they weren’t sure what was wrong with her so they did an X-ray, blood tests and CT scan. Coming back from the scan, Isobel stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated.”

Joe continued:  “Following her diagnosis, doctors decided to put Isobel into an induced coma and transfer her by ambulance to the intensive care unit at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Isobel was in Manchester for 10 days but thankfully, she has made a full recovery and is now thriving. She owes her life though to the doctors and nurses who first treated her in Preston.”

Joining Joe on his epic expedition are names familiar to longstanding Riverside regulars – Andrew Ireland, Andrew Taylor, Carlo Matichecchia, Joe Crook, Michael Shepherd, Matthew Johnston and David Porter, who along with father-in-law Dave Richardson are all in training to complete the climb. Joe’s dad Fred Millier, step father-in-law Karl Coulter and Phil Hall are sharing the driving and support in between.

Joe said: “When we were with Isobel in Manchester, Emily and I stayed in a Ronald McDonald House by the hospital so last year, I did a skydive that raised £3,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities to say thanks. Now I want to thank the Children’s Ward staff at the RPH.”

To sponsor Joe and his team mates, go to

The Children’s Fund supports improvements to children’s in and outpatients at the Royal Preston Hospital and also, at all other children’s facilities managed by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

It funds upgrades to medical devices that go beyond usual NHS resources and distraction tools such as ceiling panels and play equipment. It also paid for the 2023 refurbishment of the Children’s Ward parents’ room. To find out more, become involved or make a donation, go to