A former police officer who has been supported by Heartbeat has found a novel way of saying thank you.
Stephen Little, of Penwortham, was at the gym when he started to get pains in his chest, back in July 2017. He spent five days in Royal Preston Hospital, with tests revealing he had chronic coronary heart disease, which was linked to a strong family history of heart disease.
The father-of-two was then placed on the waiting list for a heart bypass and during his pre-op appointment in November 2017, he suffered a heart attack.
This didn’t stop his operation going ahead and on his 59th birthday he had a quadruple heart bypass at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The next six weeks after his operation and road to recovery were spent at Heartbeat, the North West Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre based in Preston.
Stephen says: “I really enjoyed my rehabilitation classes at Heartbeat, not only did it help me gain my fitness back it also gave me my confidence back.”
Stephen, an ex-police officer, wanted to give something back to Heartbeat, so planned to take jump out of a plane and get sponsorship.
However his cardiologist has strongly advised him not to this so soon after his operation, so he recruited his nieces Aimee Smith and Katie Whish to take on the challenge on his behalf on July 7 at Skydive Northwest, Flookburgh.
The pair will also be raising funds for Kidney Research UK, as Aimee’s mum, Shirley Macdonald, 58, had a kidney transplant.
Aimee, of Wesham, says: “My uncle Stephen said he wanted to do a skydive for Heartbeat and I had always wanted to do one for Kidney Research UK so we decided to do it together and split the funds.
“But his cardiologist advised against it. My cousin, Katie, of Leyland, had bid on a skydive during an event for St George’s Day in Lytham, raising money for ABF Soldiers. She has paid her money for that charity and said she will do the skydive with me for Heartbeat and Kidney Research UK.
“These two charities mean a lot to us as they have supported our family members.
“My mum had polycystic cysts on her kidneys and they started to grow, causing a lot of pain, so she needed a transplant.
“Her brother, John Treacy, was a match and gave her his kidney. She had two major operations. The first was in 2007 to introduce the kidney to her body. There was a two-year wait to check her body was okay with the kidney and by 2009, as everything was fine, she had both her own kidneys taken out. The cysts weighed two kilos.
“Kidneys don’t last forever, so she will probably need another at some point. Luckily, other family members were a match.
“My sister, Lauri, 28, of Kirkham, also has cysts and may need a transplant in the future.”
Lisa Riding, Heartbeat fund-raiser, says: “It was lovely to meet Stephen and hear just how much he valued the care he received from us here at Heartbeat. His fund-raising efforts are so very much appreciated, and I am sure in a few years’ time he will get the thumbs up from his cardiologist to fulfil his parachute jump experience, but for now let’s leave that to his nieces.”
To support Aimee and Katie, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/aimeeandsteve10