Children's Charity for the Freeman Hospital

Text Santa Appearance

Hi everyone,

Thank you to everyone who read my first official blog, especially those who said such lovely things about our story.

When I wrote my first blog just over a week ago, I was a little unsure how often I would have something interesting to write about. I think this is proof that you should be careful what you wish for as we’ve just had one of the craziest weeks of our lives!

Initially a friend fooled us into thinking we had VIP tickets to the ITV Text Santa show, with the possibility of meeting hosts Ant & Dec and talking to them about CHUF (Children’s Heart Unit Fund at the Freeman Hospital). Much to our surprise it had all been a ploy to get us to the show because we’d been nominated by Claire Barber (Twitter:!/clairebarberpr) because of our fundraising work for CHUF. Those of you who know me, will agree that I’m very rarely left speechless; however I can confirm this was one such occasion. All I could think was the millions of people watching TV on Christmas Eve and suddenly we’re the ones they’re looking at. It was great fun and I don’t think we embarrassed ourselves too much. Of all the things that shocked me the most was that they showed a photo from my Mankini skiing challenge (; Nadine’s biggest shock was they filmed in our house and she hadn’t made the bed or tidied up!

We were so flattered that our work for CHUF was recognised in this way, but if we are completely honest it feels like there are many other people who have dedicated a significantly greater amount of their lives who would be more deserving than us. As anyone who fundraises for a charity will attest, the motivation comes from giving something back rather than receiving praise. Apart from winning the holiday and toy car for Seb, the aspects that thrilled us most was the national profile the charity received and fantastic toys Hamleys kindly donated for the Unit.

If you are interested in watching the show click on this link and go to 6 minutes in:

Things went a little bit mad for the next few days as our Text Santa appearance generated local TV, radio and newspaper interest with some fantastic pr for the charity. The highlight of our week was when we were able to go the Freeman Hospital and give out the toys to the children. The impact these toys have on the Unit is huge and it makes such a difference to so many very poorly little ones. Our Heart Unit at the Freeman rarely receives the same level of national publicity as some other Units; even though it is one of only two Units that carry out heart transplants on children (the other being Great Ormond Street Hospital). We really hope that we can move CHUF onto another level off the back of Text Santa, so watch this space.

Aside of the joy that we felt in being able to hand out so many wonderful presents, we both find it very difficult visiting the Unit as it brings back so many memories. Whilst the miracles the Freeman carries out every single day enable so many Heart babies to survive, therefore should be viewed in a positive light; visiting it forces you to remember how poorly your child once was. Whilst there, we were lucky enough to see a very special little girl called Llana who is currently on the Unit because she is awaiting a heart transplant. Of all the children on the Unit I find stories like Llana’s the most difficult to deal with, as for her to live another child must die! The tragedy of one family’s story will lead to the most joyous moment for another. I know that if anything ever happened to me I would hope that through my tragedy others could survive. I guess the easiest way of putting it is, would you accept an organ (or accept it on behalf of a critically ill child) if your life depended on it? Most of us would, yet only 29% of us have joined the Organ Donor Register. More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need a transplant; of these, 1000 a year (that’s 3 a day) will die waiting because there are not enough organs available. Please help other people like little Llana by taking a few minutes to register here:

Our Seb4CHUF journey is not just about raising money for CHUF, but also about awareness. Not purely awareness of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD), but also critically important areas such as the Organ Donor Register.

In amongst all of this madness we had Christmas to share with our family. With Seb being almost 3 years old he is starting to understand a little more now, so it was a really special time. I have to say I think his favourite present is the Gruffalo DVD which he received from his Auntie Sarah; we’ve now watched said DVD in excess of 30 times!!! He hasn’t seen the car that we won on Text Santa yet as we want him to appreciate all of his Christmas presents before we give him that. I think he may well explode when he sees it mind you.

Apart from consuming my body weight in food and wine over the festive period I managed to train quite well and took my training up another level as my 100mile24hour run gets closer. You’d think that my training completely revolves around running, but I have taken a different approach than just running for hours every day. After receiving some great advice from Chris Brisley (Twitter:!/TakeaChallenge) who inspired this challenge and has completed a similar run in Devon and my physio Damon Voss (Twitter:!/MySportsClinic), I have been spending a considerable amount of time improving my core stability and leg strength. Being quite anti-social when it comes to training I have a various bits of kit in our garage, so I can complete all of my non-running training in there on my own. Aside of the mental challenges with an ultra endurance run like this, I think the major problems will come if my posture falls apart as fatigue sets in; it is for this reason that the additional work to running is so important. The other thing that helps me at 6am in the morning and when my motivation is starting to wane, are all the different people that I chat to on Twitter and Facebook. Like minded people getting out of bed when it’s dark, cold and horrible outside to start their day with a tough training session is quite comforting and feels like you have lots of training partners dotted all over the Country. I’m certainly going to need the support of all my Twitter and Facebook friends during the tough miles of my 100 mile run, so hopefully you’ll all help me through the night?

It’s probably time I logged off now, especially due to the fact I’m back to work tomorrow and have to be up before 6am to train.

Speak to you soon.



Comments on: "Text Santa Appearance" (2)

  1. Paul White said:

    Ivan is an inspiration to others. I have got to know him after following his progress on his recent epic C2C challenge and ‘speak’ to him regularly on Twitter. (@cheshirecheese) His holiday is totally deserved and I wish him and his wonderful family all the very best for 2012 and beyond.

  2. simon wells said:

    Great blog Ivan. Tho I am more surprised that you leave Nadine to make the beds! 😉 keep up the good work.

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