On the 4th of October my girlfriend, Issy, underwent open-heart surgery at St Bart’s Hospital. This was to treat an atrial septal defect, or more commonly known as a hole in her heart. Issy had been unaware of this issue until a few years ago when she had a check up for something unrelated which then led to the discovery of this heart defect. Thankfully the operation went well and Issy shortly returned to full health. This was due to the excellent work of the staff at the hospital, in particular the GUCH team.
Issy and her family worked closely with the GUCH team prior to the operation and they provided fantastic support throughout her time in hospital. They reassured everyone involved; the importance of which cannot be understated given the daunting nature of open-heart surgery. I saw first hand the impact of their work and experienced the difference it can make to all involved in such a serious operation. After developing such an appreciation for the GUCH department, I thought it necessary to raise funds for The Somerville Foundation so that this great work can continue. The Exeter Half Marathon provided me with a superb opportunity to do so.
In early January I began training for the run, which took place on the 12th of February. This consisted of lots of cold winter runs, but the fact that I knew I was running for such a great cause gave me extra motivation and ensured that I was completely committed. This made sure that I continually pushed myself, and come race day, I felt relatively prepared (given the short amount of time I had been training). I managed to complete the race itself in a time of two hours and nine minutes, which is by no means fast. However, the time was not important to me compared to the amount of money that I raised. The run was tough but it was very rewarding to complete it for a cause with which I have such an affinity.
In total, I have raised around £740 for The Somerville Foundation, which I hope will go a long way in helping the charity to continue its excellent work. I have been told that this money in particular will fund events that teach patients how to deal with the mental health issues associated with congenital heart disease. Also, it will enable the charity to continue to operate their free helpline. These are just a couple of ways in which The Somerville Foundation works towards improving the lives of young people dealing with congenital heart issues.
This may have been a physically tough challenge but it is nothing compared to the physical and emotional toughness of people dealing with congenital heart diseases. Therefore, it was a completely fulfilling event; particularly due to the knowledge that more young people will receive the same fantastic support as Issy.