Walking boots

After being diagnosed with what appeared to be an innocent heart murmur as a child, Helen Witt did not think she would find herself facing open-heart surgery in her 40s.

“I was born with a heart murmur, but it was never treated as the doctors thought it was innocent and my parents were told not to worry.”

However, after having three children and at the age of 42, Helen’s health deteriorated.

“I visited the doctor who said my heart murmur did not sound right and booked me in for further tests. They discovered that I had aortic stenosis, one of the most common and most serious valve disease problems. Eight months later, I had a heart bypass.

I felt very lost after the operation but a great charity, The Somerville Foundation, gave me support and advice and helped me to connect with other people who have been through heart surgery too. It has been amazing.

Hearing from others, who are or have been in an even worse situation, not complaining and accepting their condition has been hugely inspiring to me. It has showed me that you can live with a heart condition and I want to inspire others too.”

Now that Helen is finally fit, she pledged to take on the South West Coast Path and raise money for The Somerville Foundation.

“I will be joined by my family, including my Dad who is in his 80s, and our dogs.

My Dad walked the South West Coast Path a long time ago with my brother and sister and other family members to raise money for charity, as my nephew was also born with a heart problem.

I did some smaller walks with my family but I never finished the coast path. Now my son, who is 13 years old, would like to follow in ‘Gramps’’ footsteps and as I had my heart bypass two years ago we decided to raise money for charity too.”

Taking all of her Dad’s photos, maps and walks as a guide, Helen walked with her brother, husband, three children and two dogs, from Minehead to Porlock Weir.

“My mum and Dad walked a few miles with us and met up with us for food and drink stops. We all had a great time!

When I am out walking, I feel so proud and relieved that I have got through the last two years and this has a lot to do with The Somerville Foundation. Their website and online forums helped me so much and want to make people aware of the help and support out there for them.”

Thank you Helen and all of your family (and dogs) for fundraising for TSF.