Lincolnshire FA, in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, has recently launched the '50 for 50' campaign - looking for 50 clubs to raise £50 to help reach a goal of £2,500 during the next football season.
The '50 for 50' challenge is an opportunity for clubs to embrace some fun and fundraising, get outdoors and help to fund life saving and life changing research.
September is also the month of action for the 'Spotlight On' campaign for the British Heart Foundation, a campaign that aims to put a spotlight on hidden heart conditions to raise their profile and fund urgently needed research that could help save lives.
Andrew Shaw and Roley Thompson play Walking Football for Grimsby Ancient Mariners and Wolds Wanderers. They now share a rare bond that not many people will be able to replicate, after Andy saved Roley's life after he collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest whilst playing football.
“I don’t remember a lot about the day, I keep getting information from my daughter still about it. People keep saying to me, you don’t realise how lucky you are, and I say I do, every day. It’s one of those things, my wife was prompting me yesterday about things that happened, and you know it’s a lot to take in. After the event I got very emotional, I really did, I always say to people, put it this way I knocked on death’s door, they didn’t answer so I cleared off” Roley tells the BHF.
Roley is clearly moved by this life changing experience and the impact that it has had on the people he loves, but he continues to maintain his humour and warm smile.
“I didn’t feel unwell on the day. I was out with my eldest granddaughter, we were on our bikes, I said to her I’m going to football this afternoon so we best get home. My fear looking back is what would she have done if it happened on the bike ride, she was only ten years old. It was good in the sense that I was at football with Andy and Glynn.”
Roley really was in the right place with the right people when the incident occurred. Only one in sixteen people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest in Lincolnshire. Roley is part of a minority, one of the lucky few - a miracle perhaps.
“When I hear those statistics about out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates, I can’t believe it. My family, and my daughter are all the time telling me 'you don’t know how lucky you are you need to take it steady'. I have to take the bigger picture but it is frightening for them all. I have got three goals at the moment, I want to see my eldest grandson get married, the youngest one married and to have a long and happy life”
Andy, a former Firefighter, still vividly recollects the events as they happened.
"It was quite a nice day for April and we were playing outside. I heard someone shout out, every time someone’s hurt they always shout me, and then I saw Roley on the ground.
When I got towards him, I checked for a pulse. There wasn't one so I began CPR. As a former firefighter and also manager of a sports centre, I had to know CPR, and had a national lifeguard qualification. To keep that current, you have to take regular training and part of that is doing CPR. So basically, I trained continually for about 25 years for this.
As a firefighter, you learn to deal with things. When everyone is running away, you are running into that situation and you just get on with it. We had sent for an ambulance, we seemed to revive him once but lost him again. I think we delivered CPR for around 15 minutes. This was alternated between myself and friend and fellow player, Glyn Cook. We were also guided by the person on 999 before the ambulance crew arrived and continued for another 15 minutes. I have delivered CPR three times in my lifetime and twice it was unsuccessful, Roley was third time lucky.
When asked what Walking Football meant to him, Roley said: "I always say it’s the camaraderie. They bring you on leaps and bounds, and there’s lots of banter. It's so great for your mental health. I love life, I used to cycle a lot I do a lot more walking now. I get into trouble a lot with the family telling me to do less, but I’ve been given another chance, I get to see my grandkids grow up and that’s amazing".
Heart and circulatory diseases affect over 7.6 million people across the UK, with 160,000 of those living in Lincolnshire alone. However, many of these conditions are often viewed as unseen or non-life threatening. Stories like Andy & Roley's highlight the importance of this season's '50 for 50' campaign, and the wider work of the British Heart Foundation.
Melanie Meik, Community Engagement and Fundraising Manger for Lincolnshire at BHF, says: "I have met many players that have joined walking football who are living with diagnosed heart conditions. Within many of the teams, we have people who have had heart surgery, stent procedures and more. The 50 for 50 campaign is not only helping us to raise awareness of the need to support the funding of more life saving and life changing research but also to put a spotlight on hidden heart conditions, just like Roley’s which resulted in a cardiac arrest on the football pitch.
We’re really grateful to Andy & Roley for raising awareness of hidden heart conditions by supporting our Spotlight On campaign. Their story is so inspirational and incredible and not only puts a spotlight on hidden heart conditions, but the importance of knowing how to administer CPR and being prepared with that knowledge should the worst happen. As we've seen here, it can literally save a life and you never know if or when that day may come".
Thank you Andy and Roley for helping us put a spotlight on hidden heart conditions".
If you'd like to donate to the 50 for 50 campaign for the BHF, you can do this here
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