Category Archives: Health Stories

Alan Turner’s Story

Case Study

Date: March 2019

This is Alan, a cheeky chappy from Liverpool AKA as Mr Happy from his students at the school where he works as a science technician.

In 2016 Alan aged just 42 suffered a huge heart attack. Alan was at work at the time lifting 10kg weights from one room to another when he thought he was suffering with indigestion. A prickling sensation then started in his arm and a pain in his jaw and back which made Alan realise this could be more serious than just indigestion. Later that day Alan went home and did some decorating, however the pain wasn’t easing so he took himself off to the hospital on the bus!

Royal Preston hospital assessed Alan and he was suffering a huge heart attack. He was later transferred to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where he had an operation to have a stent fitted.

Alan who is also battling with non-Hodgkinson Lymphoma is doing fantastic at his rehabilitation classes at Heartbeat.

Alan said “I started my rehabilitation journey with Heartbeat and initially left after six weeks to join a ‘normal’ gym, however I returned to Heartbeat in June last year. The support that you get from the instructors at Heartbeat is fantastic and unlike your standard gym.”

Alan attends his exercises classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Heartbeat, and he plays badminton twice a week. The changes he has made to his lifestyle have resulted in him losing a stone in weight. He enjoys exercising with Heartbeat knowing there are specialised instructors on standby if anything was to go wrong!

Lisa Riding Heartbeat fundraiser said “Keep doing what you’re doing Alan. You are a superstar and have had to deal with a lot over the past few years. The instructors love having you in their classes and it’s a real joy to hear just how you enjoy your classes. Heartbeat supports over 950 local people per week just like Alan and have been rehabilitating heart patients and those at risk for over 40 years.”


For more information please call Lisa Riding Heartbeat fundraiser on 01772 717147 Email

Kathleen Scargill’s Story

Case Study

Date: February 2019

Meet Kathleen, born and bred in Fulwood on her father’s farm. Kathleen now 75 years old has had to go through some very difficult times, having been widowed three times raising three children on her own all whilst working as a secretary to support her family. Kathleen has also battled with her health, suffering with severe back pain resulting in several back operations along with cancer of the kidney and bladder.

Kathleen joined Heartbeat in 2018 after suffering a heart attack. One late evening in July Kathleen began to feel unwell and had a strange sensation in arm. She rang her son and he insisted she call an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived, they took her to Lancaster hospital to have further checks. She was then transferred to Blackpool where she had an Angiogram and it was confirmed she had suffered a heart attack and would need a stent fitted.

Kathleen said, “I couldn’t actually believe I had suffered a heart attack, although I had felt strange, I wasn’t really in any pain, more of a discomfort.”

Once the stent had been fitted Kathleen started her rehabilitation firstly at the hospital, then with us here at Heartbeat. Attending classes on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

Kathleen added, “I really enjoy my classes here at Heartbeat with my instructors Jackie and Rebecca. I like using the treadmill, rowing and the stepper and feel so safe and secure exercising with trained BACPR instructors”

Lisa Riding Heartbeat fundraiser said, “Kathleen is a truly amazing lady, a real inspiration to us all. I was blown away by just how much she has gone through and her commitment to attend her weekly classes whilst continuing to battle with ongoing heart investigations and on discovering another tumour in her bladder.

Heartbeat supports over 900 local people per week just like Kathleen and have been rehabilitating heart patients and those at risk for over 40 years.”

For more information please call Lisa Riding Heartbeat fundraiser on 01772 717147

Peter Robinson runs The Great North Run for Heartbeat

The primary reason for raising money for Heartbeat is that my Dad underwent a heart valve replacement operation last year and he cannot speak highly enough of the support and guidance he has received from Heartbeat. He still attends Heartbeat twice weekly for gym sessions and is benefitting hugely from the aftercare you provide.

From a personal point of view I took the decision 18 months ago that I really needed to sort myself out having got terribly unfit, overweight, eating unhealthy and a heavy smoker too! Therefore, I slowly changed my lifestyle and too my surprise found that running was a great way to keep fit.

I have/gradually built up the frequency and distances over the past 18 months so decided to enter the ballot for the Great North Run. To my shock, horror and surprise I was successful in the ballot entry but was subsequently stalked by a number of large well known charities ‘touting’ for my business. I therefore quickly decided to a) keep it local and b) raise money  for a charity that has benefitted my family and that does not receive large scale donations, government help etc.

The only thing I needed to do now was train and raise the money!

The run itself was tough – far tougher than I expected which was largely due to the unseasonably warm weather conditions and what seemed like an endless incline. However, the North east crowd are amazing, cheering everyone on from start to finish. If you wanted you could benefit from items being handed out by spectators such as jelly babies, ice pops and I’m told even Beer!. Also, during the tough moments on the course you only need to look around you and see people for all shapes and sizes raising money for hundreds of worthwhile charities. The dedications to family members on the back of people’s running shirts are an inspiration.

So, 1 hour, 59 minutes and 30 seconds later I crossed the finish line. I’ve never been so happy to come 10,817th in my life. So far I’ve raised £1,288.

If you’re inspired by Peter’s story and would like to take on a challenge to raise money for Heartbeat, contact Mark on 01772 717 147 or at

Heartfelt thanks and a happy 70th birthday to David Banks

On Sunday 4th December 2016 Heartbeat member, David Banks, completed to the Lancaster half marathon to celebrate his 70th birthday. Well done David!

Here’s his message to you.

“Hi guys,

Well I completed the Lancaster 1/2 marathon along the banks of the Lune yesterday morning in 2hrs 11 minutes and 24 seconds

Following my two Cardiac procedures in 2013 I was contacted by a Cardiac nurse from the local charity Heartbeat. They helped me with advice with medication, enlisted me on the six week rehabilitation course in the gym and most of all gave me back my confidence.

Dave Banks 2

I am an ex-submariner from the Royal Navy and keen keep fitter who has completed 10 marathons so imagine; after my collapse I felt my whole world had fallen apart.

I have kept attending the gym classes at the fantastic rehabilitation centre at Deepdale Stadium and built up my fitness which helped me run the 13.1 mile race yesterday.

I ran it for Heartbeat and would be grateful for any donations.


David Banks”

Dave Banks 1

If you would like to make a donation towards David’s efforts, visit his JustGiving page or pop in to Heartbeat NWCC.




BHF & Heartbeat give cardiac arrest victims fighting chance of survival

Heartbeat gains funding for Life-saving defibrillator at Preston North End FC

Heartbeat based at Preston North End is to become a community of lifesavers after it has been fitted with a public access defibrillator (PAD) and has been awarded a CPR training kit by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The Community Package contains the innovative kit which includes everything needed to learn CPR in half an hour.  Heartbeat plan to run training sessions in the local community meaning everyone can become potential lifesavers to book onto a course contact or telephone 01772 717147.

Defib 1

The defibrillator is a portable device that can be used by a member of the public to help restart the heart when someone has a cardiac arrest. This is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body and they lose consciousness almost at once. For every minute that passes without defibrillation and CPR, chances of survival decrease by around ten per cent. So it’s really important the people of Deepdale know both of these vital steps to help someone in an emergency.

Over 30,000 cardiac arrests happen out of hospital in the UK every year but currently less than one in ten survive. The BHF want to create a Nation of Lifesavers in a bid to boost these shocking survival rates.

The charity is campaigning for defibrillators to be made more accessible and recognisable to the public. Heartbeat want all young people to be taught CPR and PAD awareness at school.

Siân Percival-Edwards from Heartbeat said: “The defibrillator will be placed on the front of our building just behind the iconic Sir Tom Finney Statue at Preston North End FC meaning that local people have the best chance of survival should they suffer a cardiac arrest. We’re keen to get as many people as possible trained in CPR too. We’re now working to raise money for further defib’s to be placed around our community.”
heart in right place
Judy O’Sullivan, Assistant Programme Director at the BHF, said: “More than 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year but less than one in ten survive. More people could be saved if more defibrillators were available in public places and if more people felt confident using them and performing CPR. We are delighted that Heartbeat have joined the BHF’s Nation of Lifesavers campaign – by making another defibrillator available in a public location and teaching CPR locally. It could really be the difference between life and death. ”

When someone suffers a cardiac arrest their heart stops pumping blood around the body. They lose conscious almost at once and there are no signs of life. For every minute that passes without defibrillation and CPR, chances of survival decrease by around ten per cent. So it’s really important people in the Deepdale area know both of these vital steps to help someone in an emergency.


Heartbeat Defib PNE


Click here for instructions and further information


Mike’s Story…

I’m a 53 year old Chartered Civil Engineer. I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly fit and healthy guy. I’m not overweight, I have a pretty healthy diet (skimmed milk, low fat spreads, not too much red meat, decent amounts of fruit, veg and oily fish etc). Alcohol? Yes please, but only in moderation. Smoking? No thanks never done it.

Over the years I’ve done plenty of running and swimming, played squash and took up hang gliding. I admit I could do more exercise but there’s always something else to do or another excuse isn’t there?

However, both parents and both sets of grandparents have had heart problems, some dying at a relatively young age.

I have regular company medicals and they generally give me a clean bill of health although I frequently have raised cholesterol. But hey, that’s just a number… isn’t it?

In March 2014 I got “crushing” pains in my chest but I’ve never been crushed and don’t really know how bad the pain is supposed to be before I do anything about it… let’s see how it goes – oh and I’ve still got the tail end of a cold so it’s probably just a chest infection.

I started to get breathless like I’ve run a marathon. Simple tasks like climbing my stairs at home are becoming a challenge and I have to stop to recover half way up… Hmm, this is unusual… no, I’ve still got my cold so I’ll be fine when it goes.

A week went by, indigestion was a bit of a nuisance… Oh I remember, I had a curry a couple of days ago that will be it.

Then starting to get a feeling in my throat like cramp now… my colds gone so it can’t be that… I know, I’ll have swallowed something without chewing it enough that would do it… wouldn’t it?

Funny this, my colds gone a couple of weeks ago but I’m still getting chest pains, breathlessness, indigestion and throat cramp. I’ve slipped up and mentioned it to my missus but she just keeps nagging on about seeing the Doctor… I’m a bloke though and we don’t see Doctors do we chaps?

In April 2014 after putting up with 6 weeks of being told by my kids as well as my wife to check it out I wondered why I am getting the chest pains when it’s just cold and I’m not even exercising? My wife mentioned it could be Angina but that’s for old fellas not fit and healthy chaps like me (I’m still 20 in my head of course!)

So I went to see the Doctor (strictly to prove to the missus I’m fine and stop her nagging you understand). The doctor didn’t tell me off for wasting his time –he says he wants some blood tests pretty urgently and also sends me for an ECG.

Blood tests came back saying high cholesterol. I’ve had this before though so no worries. Doc refers me to a specialist, and prescribes me a load of tablets and a GTN spray. This should sort me out! ECG day arrives – still been having pains, but I’m feeling fine now (or am I in denial?) so I’m still wasting their time of course but now it’s the Consultant and all the nurses at the hospital whose time I’m wasting… Aren’t I?

  • First ECG done – resting. No significant problems there… Told you so… I’m fine.
  • Second ECG done about 30 mins later. On a treadmill this time. My chance to prove how fit I am. I’m going to get such a lecture off the medical people for the waste of time and expense… Hang on, the nurses are having a conversation and pointing at the screen… Why are they stopping the test after 2 minutes and making me sit down? I thought I was meant to go on for 15 minutes?
  • I see my Consultant on a Thursday evening. Prescribed another load of tablets, books me in for an angiogram on Monday and tells me they’ll install stents if necessary at the same time… that’s good service – must just be lucky with a cancellation. Tells me to call 999 if I get any chest pains that the GTN spray can’t shift. He’s being overcautious… Isn’t he? He also wants me back in hospital the next day for a pre-op. Tells me to expect a call from the hospital in the morning to confirm a time and stresses don’t be more than 30 minutes drive away, this seems a bit unusual, probably just doesn’t want the appointments messed up if I’m late.
  • Saturday, bin day, need to get 2 heavy garden waste wheelie bins out, Wow that was painful! Use the spray, not shifting it, try again, is that better? Not sure… do I call 999?  No, I might be wasting their time, stick with the spray. Pain most of the time but I can cope… just…
  • Monday, well here we are, angiogram time and I’m on the operating table. I’ll still be wasting their time of course, they’ll find no problems and send me home in a couple of hours. I get to watch the whole procedure live on a TV screen as well – this should be good!
  • What’s that? 1 artery 99% narrowed and needs 3 stents inserting today, 2 further arteries 35% narrowed, one which serves both front and back of my heart, told I was extremely lucky not to have had a heart attack already, especially after my ‘wheelie bin wrestling’ over the weekend.
  • Finally get told off by the Consultant and nurses, NO Not for wasting their time but for ignoring what my body was telling me, not listening to my wife and kids and for not calling 999 when I put the bins out.

Update June 2014 The angiogram and stents operation wasn’t without its challenges, mainly because of dealing with the 99% narrowing I understand and I ended up in theatre twice in one day then spent a further 3 days in coronary care.

I’d be lying if I said the operation was pain free – it wasn’t, and I’m having to get used to taking lots of tablets 3 times a day but I’m still here which puts everything into perspective.

Almost 2 months on from the operation, I’m feeling fine and am now going to the gym weekly as part of my rehabilitation as well as increasing my regular exercise.

I can’t thank Dr Balachandran and the staff of the Royal Blackburn Hospital enough for their care (and the lectures!). I’d also like to thank Sian Percival -Edwards of Heartbeat for allowing me to share this story with you.

… and yes, I now listen to what my body tells me and, just as importantly, what my wife and family advise me. Ignorance really isn’t bliss.

Mike Purcell

Graham’s Story…

Love Your Heart - Join the Heartbeat Lottery

When Graham Kirkham suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple bypass at the age of 44 he was stunned. Although there was history of heart disease in the family Graham always felt he was fairly fit and active, “I thought I was bullet proof as I was never ill and worked long hours in a very physical job.”

After his time in hospital Graham came to Heartbeat for cardiac rehabilitation, he has never looked back and credits Heartbeat with turning his life around.

“After having a heart attack and bypass, you feel frightened when it comes to exercise even though you know you need it” says Graham. “I was nervous and tentative about exercising as I did not know what would happen. But the team at Heartbeat put me at ease. You go there twice a week for exercise under supervision and within weeks, you love the place and can’t wait until the next time you go. The cardiac rehabilitation is structured and there are nurses on hand to support you.  It’s great as you are in the company of like-minded people who have all been through similar heart procedures.

“I felt so much better after going to Heartbeat as it has filled me with confidence and given me a new lease of life.”

Gavin’s Story …

It’s November 2012 and I’ve just popped in to see Dr. Dingle about a touch of flu that seems to have settled onto my chest, me thinks a session with some antibiotics should do the trick. ‘Not so fast’, says he ‘first tell me about those times you find yourself out of breath’.

That was the beginning. Before I knew it I was on a treadmill at Lancaster Hospital, breathing heavily into various tubes under the watchful eyes of a couple of medics – results were duly analysed and a subsequent angiogram confirmed my worst fears – at least one blocked artery, possibly two – ‘we recommend a by-pass’, ouch. It’s now February 2013.

By the time I underwent my operation in April 2013 I had been sufficiently educated in the workings of my heart and the surgeon’s intentions that I could have given a presentation on the subject! That said, nothing could alleviate the panic & real fear that I felt when I entered that theatre.

I shouldn’t have worried. A few hours later I woke up to the soothing sound of Charlotte, the CITU nurse, and my beloved partner Maureen gently stroking my arm with that ‘hello again’ look on her face. 5 days later and I was home.

Since then it’s been ‘onwards & upwards’. What started as baby-steps along our street culminated in a short walk to the golf club and my first post-op pint a week later! Little by little, I grew stronger & more confident but the real improvements started when I met the nurses & staff of the Heartbeat organisation.

If I was asked to sum up my thoughts about Heartbeat in a single word it would be … ‘Safe’ because that’s the way they have made me feel since that first tentative visit. Their professionalism, friendship and understanding, throughout what has been a traumatic experience, has given me a positive outlook and one I can build upon for a brighter future. They have armed me with a better understanding of ‘healthy living’ and, in the company of like-minded individuals, my twice-weekly visits to their gym ensure that the repairs undertaken by those wonderful people last April is maintained.

It now takes me a bit longer to get out of breath – an hour in the Heartbeat gym normally does it (!) but recovery time is much quicker and you can’t buy the glow you feel stepping outside afterwards. Ben Nevis beckons once more!

What started off as part of my recovery but has since become a vital part of my day-to-day. So ‘Thank you’ Heartbeat. Long may we both continue.




Ray Butler gives something back to Heartbeat

Ray Butler taking on Preston’s Guild Wheel

Ray Butler gives something back to Heartbeat

Avid Heartbeat supporter and service user Ray Butler has raised a wonderful £425 by taking on Preston’s Guild Wheel.

Ray wanted to take on a challenge to give something back to Heartbeat after attending heart rehabilitation classes for the last 25 years as well as celebrating his 70th birthday.

On Saturday 30th May Ray along with friend Tim Eaves took on the mighty 21 mile guild wheel on foot. During the route they were joined by a fellow class member John Beetham and Heartbeat Staff Karen Gildert and Carl Martinez.


Ray said –

“I would like to thank all those that have kindly sponsored me. I didn’t expect to raise as much as I have. Walking is something I really enjoy doing so being able to do it and give something back to the charity that has helped me keep a good level of fitness after my heart attacks was fantastic”




Lisa Riding Heartbeat Fundraiser –

“On behalf of us all here at Heartbeat I would like to thank Ray and his team for taking part in the challenge and for raising this wonderful amount for Heartbeat. Fundraising has never been so important to Heartbeat, with our recent move to PNE we are looking to increase our services within the local community and reach out to more people suffering from or at risk of cardiovascular disease.”

If like Ray you would like to support Heartbeat by taking up your own personal challenge or by organising your own fundraising event we would love to hear from you. Please contact Lisa Riding in the fundraising office on 01772 717147 or email

My heart was like Swiss cheese

‘The doctor said my heart was like Swiss cheese – it was full of holes’

Ian Butler fell ill on a charity bike ride for Heartbeat and doctors later found 16 holes in his heart.

He talks to Laura Wild as part of the Evening Post campaign to help the charity raise cash to move to its new home.

BATTLING BACK TO HEALTH: Ian Butler at home in Leyland

BATTLING BACK TO HEALTH: Ian Butler at home in Leyland


Ian Butler is now recovering from major heart surgery following an episode which changed his life.

The 43-year-old from Leyland worked as a postman for 13 years and considered himself in good health. Little did he know that his heart was riddled with holes, which had been there since birth.

Ironically, Ian was taking part in an event to help Preston-based charity Heartbeat, which is currently trying to raise £37,000 to kit out new premises at the former National Football Museum.

Ian says: “I am reasonably healthy and I keep myself quite fit, but I started to notice I was getting short of breath and having dizzy spells. But, being a bloke you don’t take much notice, I just ignored it.

“Me and a couple of mates always do a bike ride each year for charity, and we thought we would do it for Heartbeat because my dad had a triple heart bypass three years ago.

“We had been training and I started feeling short of breath and dizzy, but I didn’t really think anything of it.

“I actually did the bike ride, it was Manchester to Blackpool, but I was in so much trouble. I couldn’t carry on. I got 20 miles in and just had to stop.

“I couldn’t get my breath. I had to drop out.

“About a week later I thought I am going to have to go to the doctors.

“I went to the doctors and he gave me a quick once over, he checked my pulse, put the stethoscope on my heart, it was just a routine check-up. He said ‘everything seems fine. I can’t see any problems.’ But because I had been experiencing dizzy spells and shortness of breath they did an ECG.

“They said something wasn’t right, my heart was all out of rhythm. At first they didn’t know if it was the machine, so they did another one and it was the same thing again.

“Within 10 minutes I was in the back of an ambulance on the way to Chorley hospital. They said I had atrial fibrillation, a rhythm problem.

“I was in hospital for about 36 hours. I was put on a drug called warfarin and they said they would shock the heart back into rhythm, but they needed to get my blood to a certain level, which could take eight to 10 weeks.

“In the meantime I had all these other tests, x-rays, scans, when I went back to Chorley to speak to cardiology they showed me the scans.

“They scan showed an enlargement on the right side of my heart which shouldn’t be there. I was referred to Wythenshawe Hospital where I had an MRI which found two large holes in my heart, called atrial septal defect, which were 2cm in diameter.

“They told me I would need an operation, and I needed it pretty soon.

“They did a lot more tests to find out which would be the best way to do, then they found a lot more small holes around my heart as well.

“The doctor said my heart was like a block of swiss cheese – it was full of holes.

“They had been there since birth but had never caused me a problem, then all of a sudden they decided to kick off.

“Because I kept myself fit and healthy it had kept me going, it had just got to the stage where it had enough.

“In total, I had two large holes and 14 to 16 smaller ones. There was quite a bit wrong.

“And my heart was still out of rhythm.

“They did further tests to find out how they would solve this problem. I was told in early December I would have to have open heart surgery.

“It was early February this year that they did the operation.”

Surgeons found that Ian had a disconnected tricuspid valve and a damaged septal area in his heart. They created a new middle and patched the holes up with cow intestine. It was like a puncture repair kit for a bike.

He continues: “They restarted my heart after the operation, then it went back into a normal rhythm.

“I am lucky to be here. Before Christmas last year I couldn’t walk any distance at all. I couldn’t do anything. I was 42 at the time. I had gone from a reasonably fit bloke to being in a real mess.

“I was panicky, thinking what if they can’t fix it. But they did fix me and this is why I go to Heartbeat. I am back on my feet.

“I can’t explain what it was like, especially at 42.

“I am a lot better in a way. I am a lot safer because I have been fixed.”

Ian is on a nine-month programme at Heartbeat and he attends twice a week. He is building his fitness up there. He started attending classes at Clayton Green in Chorley, but now attends the charity’s current headquarters in Pond House in Fulwood.

He adds: “I have learnt a lot over the past 12 months about heart conditions. Apparently, a lot of people have holes in their hearts and they can lead a good life.

“I’m 6ft 6in and that is part of my down fall, they think I might have Marfan Syndrome, where your organs stretch and become disconnected.”

Ian says the move to the former National Football Museum at Deepdale will be great for the charity, adding: “I will be able to say I go training at North End!”

Help us raise £37,000 for Heartbeat – Here is how you can donate.

Call Heartbeat on 01772 717147 to make a donation by debit or credit card.

Text a donation, text, MAKE37 £5 to 70070

First published 16:08 Tuesday 07 October 2014

To see the full article in the Lancashire Evening Post click here