the charities

I hope my personal effort in swimming the channel will bring some good to others, so please find below more information on the 2 causes I will be fundraising for. They are CMV Action and The Richmond Heavies Foundation – Defibrillator Fund.

Donations can be made by clicking here and it will take you to the Atlas Foundation site, which has been chosen because of their affiliation with rugby and zero commission fees, unlike other giving sites. Many thanks for the support.

This is Orla the daughter of my great friends Henry and Hannah Head. Orla is great. She has extraordinary sparkling eyes and the most engaging smile you have ever seen. These wonderful eyes and smile follow when you enter the room and you can’t fail to smile back.

Her future though is unknown due to congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Similar to a common cold to you and I, CMV when contracted in the womb is very serious and can result in severe life changing disabilities. Around 5,000 babies every year in the UK are born with a congenital CMV infection, of these around 900 a year will have an uncertain future, the symptoms of which include loss of hearing, cerebral palsy, microcephaly, vision loss, cognitive delay and other significant permanent issues. 

Such a diagnosis is devastating for any family as the excitement of a new baby brings the uncertainty of the future. Will their child be living with them forever, will they be independent at all, will they hear, walk or talk? 

The research into the condition is very much on a shoestring. A very similar number of babies are born with CMV as Downs Syndrome every year but the research is at its infancy. CMV Action is the only CMV charity in the UK – they work tirelessly supporting families effected by the virus, educating frontline medical professionals, liaising with current medical researchers and lobbying the government. Prevention of course is better than cure and simple gestures such as regular hand washing, as we are now too aware of, can make a huge difference in preventing the transmission of this devastating virus.

Orla though is extremely lucky having parents who have moved mountains to get her the care and support she needs. The money I raise cannot help her but it can go someway to preventing more families going through the same issues as Orla’s had.

CMV Education and Awareness are key and for more information on the work of CMV Action please click here.

I played have rugby, since 1999,  in the front row for Richmond Rugby Club in West London. Now as a Heavies player (Over 35s), I and all other Heavies’ players are supporters of The Richmond Heavies Foundation (RHF). The RHF was set up after three members of the club died in 2018, two of them suddenly. Staying fit and healthy has been key to my life so I am a keen supporter of the RHF to look after the health of club members young and old through heart screening and mental wellbeing support. The heart screening has been a great success and to date three club members have had abnormalities discovered and then received further treatment. Sudden adult death syndrome is a very real threat and all too common with undiagnosed heart defects being a major contributor to this.  

In a new initiative the RHF is raising money to provide defibrillators to other rugby clubs and communities who cannot afford this lifesaving device. Recently flooding from Storm Dennis (Jan 2020) irreparably damaged the defibrillator at the Ross on Wye Sporting Club.  On hearing this the RHF funded the purchase of a new defibrillator with this new project being born. RHF has found the ideal distribution and maintenance partner in The Community Heartbeat Trust who will assist with the training of individuals at the sports club and for the testing, as well as ongoing maintenance of the defibrillator.

What can a defibrillator achieve?

Chances of survival increase from 6% to 74% with the use of a defibrillator on a patient with cardiac arrest, so they become a critical part of the armoury of any sports club. A defibrillator and training for 50 people costs not much more than £1250 which is a small price to pay for saving a life, even if it’s only once a year.  

Michelle Cuthbert, Head of Medical at Richmond Rugby writes-

“Defibrillator’s are so important at sports grounds, here at Richmond we see an defibrillator’s as essential. They are now so simple to use even in a crisis. A few years ago we managed to successfully resuscitate a 26 year old healthy rugby player with our new and unfamiliar defibrillator. There is no doubt in my mind that with the fast shock within moments of understanding the players situation, gave him a better chance. The ambulance arrived after about 10 minutes by which time his heart was back to a normal rhythm and he was breathing.  Having the ability to defibrillate someone’s heart quickly improves their chances of survival. A shock delivered within 1 minute gives the patient a 90% chance of survival, after 10 mins without a shock delivered the chance of survival is around 10%.  And the best bit is, anyone can use them. People do not die from someone having a go at resuscitation, they die from no-one having a go.”

For more information on the Defibrillator Fund and The Richmond Heavies Foundation please click here