Dad scales heights in aid of charity which helped his children..

Dad of two David Rhodes, along with his brother Andy, has completed the epic feat of climbing three peaks in Wales, and cycling in between, to raise funds for a charity which has helped his two children.

David and his fiancée Rhian Davies are parents to Efa and Jac, who were both born with heart problems. The couple have been supported by Heart Heroes, which helps children with congenital heart conditions and their families.

David, a maths teacher from Ammanford, and Andy, who lives and works in Germany, spent a weekend climbing first Snowdon, then Cadair Idris, and finally Penyfan, scaling a total of more than 2,300m.

Not only that, they cycled the distance between each peak, covering some 240km. The brothers’ dad, Steve, acted as backup support, making sure they managed to cycle from peak to peak and keeping them on schedule.

Their friends and family – including Rhian, Efa and Jac – were there at the end to cheer them on, and Jac even accompanied them up Penyfan.

David said he wanted to do the challenge to raise money for Heart Heroes, which has a hub in Wales. They started at 5am on a Friday in June and completed the challenge around 5pm on Sunday.

“I’ve done the Welsh Three Peaks before, but that was driving between each one. This time, I wanted to do something more challenging and to do it for Heart Heroes,” said David.

“When Efa was born, it was difficult for us, and even though people were lovely and want to help it was hard for them to understand exactly what we were going through. With Heart Heroes, it was so nice and reassuring to speak to people who had the same experience.”

Efa, who is now 18 months, was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta at Rhian’s 20-week pregnancy scan. She underwent corrective surgery eight days after she was born, and may need further surgery when she is older.

The family were advised that older brother Jac, who is four in July, could also have a heart condition. Tests revealed that, although outwardly fit and healthy, he may have atrial septal defect (ASD) – a hole in the heart. Jac is now awaiting an MRI scan for a formal diagnosis and treatment options.

David said: “We had no idea anything might be wrong with Jac too, but we were advised to all get checked and it seems Jac may have ASD.”

Kelly Cornish, who set up Heart Heroes, said she was very grateful to David and Andy for all fundraising effort. “The guys have done a fantastic job, we are really impressed. For us, it’s as much about raising awareness as raising funds, so other families in Wales know we are there to offer support, if they have a child or children with a heart condition.”

So far, David and Andy have raised around £2,800 but are aiming to get to £3,000. To sponsor the Rhodes brothers, visit https://tinyurl.com/2p83fdkv. For more information about Heart Heroes, visit https://heartheroes.co.uk/.

Theatre Stars

We’ve been sent some lovely news today about two new heart friends and how they met through taking part in a production of Matilda the Musical at Cheltenham Playhouse with CODS Youth Theatre! Heart families really are special #heartheroes #abilitiesnotdisablities ❤️

 

Gabby’s mum Maria tells the full story:

 
“During one of the long rehearsal days leading up to last Friday’s opening night, Gabby came home and said one of her cast friends Freddie mentioned he had had heart surgery, and Gabby told him she had too. So on hearing this I managed to find Julie, Freddie’s mum, on Facebook and messaged her to find out more about Freddie and share Gabby’s story.
 
“What are the chances, but it turns out Gabby and Freddie – who are both 11 – were both born with TOF [Tetralogy of Fallot; a group of four structural abnormalities within the heart that occur together]. It has been so lovely to connect with Freddie and his family, and for Gabby to find a new heart friend.
“Both families are obviously very proud of Gabby and Freddie, who are two out of a cast of 29 children to be given the opportunity to be part of this amazing production (180 children registered to audition), however the experience now seems even more special. Seeing them both performing together knowing what they have and will go through in the future is incredibly special to us all.
 
“We shared the story with the CODS who are putting on the production and asked if they would be able to take a photo of Gabby and Freddie in costume on stage for Heart Heroes, and they very kindly obliged. They are both in their opening scene costumes, they have had three shows so far and five more to go, starting this evening.”
 

Children’s heart charity opens its doors in Suffolk

A charity which supports families of children with serious heart conditions is setting up a new hub so it can extend its reach.

Heart Heroes has opened a branch in Suffolk, so it can help even more families, with its regular events, support groups, and signposting services.“Heart Heroes supports families of children living with heart conditions and our goal is for children and their siblings to be included in all our events, along with parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and any other close family,” said charity founder Kelly Cornish.

 

“By opening the Suffolk centre, we can reach more families by putting on local events for them, which will include coffee mornings where parents meet and support each other.” The Suffolk Hub is being run by mum-of-three daughters Lisa Carter, from Stowmarket. Lisa’s middle child, Evanee, eight, was born with a serious heart condition, and was looked after at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. 

 

“I found out during my 20-week scan and it was a real shock,” said Lisa. “Fortunately, when Evanee was born she wasn’t quite as poorly as the doctors had feared.”

Evanee has coarctation of the aorta, which is a birth defect where part of the aorta is narrower than usual. She had surgery at nine days old, at five months, and again when she was two, when she had a pacemaker fitted.

“She’s doing fantastically now, she’s very active and even running laps around the school field, which is really building her stamina. She can do most things, but she’s not allowed to do contact sports, because of the pacemaker.”

Lisa found the experience of having a child with a heart condition isolating, and so she wants local families going through the same thing to find support through the new Heart Heroes Hub.

She said: “There will be a lot of families going through what we did. When I was new to everything I was really lost, and I would love to have known about Heart Heroes then. It will also be great for Evanee to finally be able to mix with other children who have been through the same thing she has.”

The first meeting takes place on Monday May 30, from 2-4pm at Stowupland Village Hall, where there will be activities for the children and a chance for parents to chat. For more information about the Heart Heroes Hub in Suffolk, and the meetings, call Lisa on 07808 807735 or email Lisa@heartheroes.co.uk.