If you are expecting me to provide some inspirational words for resolving conflict, banishing prejudice and removing inequalities; then prepare to be disappointed. I have neither the intellectual capability nor global influence for such a vision. I leave that sort of thing to the greats of history like Mandela and Martin Luther King. What I do aspire to do, is articulate the vision I have for CHUF and all those who could be positively impacted by the charity that supports the children’s heart unit at the Freeman Hospital.
When Seb was born with a potentially life limiting heart defect, I felt completely helpless. My personal understanding of being a Father was to protect and nurture your child; yet when he was taken into the operating theatre, I could do nothing other than to kiss his beautiful little head goodbye. Then I consider the emotional trauma that Nadine went through and again feel utterly helpless! Yes I can be there for them and provide the emotional support required when coping becomes impossible. What I can’t do is mend Seb’s heart or provide the structured support that Nadine and other Heart Mums like her so desperately require.
Thankfully we are blessed with people like Mr Asif Hasan (Seb’s surgeon), Dr Richard Kirk (Seb’s Cardiologist) and Paddy Walsh (Seb’s Cardiac Liaison Nurse) who provide clinical and practical support at world leading standards. I could mention Lesley, Jackie, Amy, Kirsten, Norman, Joanne and Simon…but I would inevitably miss someone; the Freeman has so many!
There is something, I can do though…I can work tirelessly for CHUF to help it grow into a charity that can one day support all children and parents not just in a clinical field, but psychological, emotional and spiritual. Sometimes this will mean raising as much money as humanly possible and either pushing myself to the physical limited (100mile24hour run: http://www.seb4chuf.org.uk/100mile2012-video8.html) or make a bit of an idiot of myself by skiing down a mountain in a Mankini (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te9FNKWZlvc)!
Let’s be honest though; neither are sustainable, or enough to achieve such lofty ambitions! To grow CHUF into a charity that matches the world leading team at the Freeman Hospital, we need to do so much more. That doesn’t mean an army of idiots skiing down a mountain wearing nothing but a small piece of green fabric made famous by Borat, or people causing themselves physical harm as a result of an ultra-distance run. It means other people becoming as passionate about CHUF as we are. Not just those who owe everything to the unit, but normal people who have no personal link.
So how do we do this?
We try and engage with as many people as humanly possible and create events that perfectly demonstrates the core values underpinning everything CHUF aspires to achieve; healthy living, family, inclusiveness and fun. That brings me nicely on to my ‘dream’
The CHUF Heart & Sole Run (http://chufheartandsole.co.uk/) is the first step along a road to achieving big things. Having a selection of distances (1.5km – kids, 5km and 10k big kids and adults) provides the motivation to get people along and participate; but our event is so much more than just a few picturesque runs in Jesmond Dene. By creating an event that includes food, entertainment, games and bags of family fun we can create something that will not just engage with the whole family, but it will create an entire army of new supporters. But don’t just take my word for it; let Seb and Jack tell you more: http://chufheartandsole.co.uk/herovideo
As the person who commissioned this event on behalf of CHUF, I feel immense pressure as Sunday 15th June draws ever closer. It is a bold step for our charity to invest in such an event and we are relying on the amazing people of the North East, Cumbria and further afield to ensure it is a roaring success.
So back to my dream… I have a dream that in 10 years’ time, the CHUF Heart and Sole Run will be an event that takes places across the entire UK; inspiring children and adults to get involved, enjoy old fashioned family fun and support our wonderful charity. For the time being though I will concentrate on our inaugural event being a success and starting on this new and exciting path with a positive step.