Charity chief's ultramarathon fundraiser for hospital heart unit which saved his daughter's life

A grateful dad is set to run a gruelling 100km ultramarathon later this month to fundraise for a charity which supports the Leeds hospital unit which saved his daughter’s life.

By Joanna Wardill
Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:45 am

Paul Goodwin, 53, has signed up to run the Heineken ‘Race to the Castle’ event in Northumberland on June 27 in aid of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), which supports children and families at the city’s congenital heart unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

He has been a keen supporter of the Fund after his daughter Martha, now six, was given life-saving open heart surgery at the unit when she was just six days old.

Last year Paul took on the role of chairman of trustees at the charity and now, through the ultramarathon later this month, he hopes to raise much-needed funds for the worthy cause.

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Paul Goodwin, 53, will be running a 100km ultramarathon in aid of the Children's Heart Surgery Fund, where he is chairman of trustees. Picture: Tony Johnson

Paul, who works for a global HR consulting firm, said: “Our journey was made that much more bearable by the wonderful care we received from CHSF, which included accommodation and offers of counselling and job support.

“I can vouch for the incredible skill and care of the heart unit, through both my roles as Martha’s dad and through subsequent visits to the ward and intensive care unit as a trustee.”

Martha was born with a rare congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries - where the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed.

Thankfully her surgery was successful and she was able to return home just days later and is now doing well, with regular check-ups at the unit.

Paul's daughter Martha, now six, had open heart surgery at the Leeds Children's Hospital congenital heart unit when she was just six days old.

Paul, of Mirfield, said finding out something is wrong with your child’s heart sets you into a “tailspin” and her surgery was the “longest six-and-a half hours of my life”.

But he said within minutes of arriving at the Leeds unit, CHSF had organised accommodation, car parking vouchers and offered to let his and wife Sophie's employers know.

“All that support was in place which was great. And we started to notice other things like some of the equipment had ‘funded by CHSF’ on it.

“All of a sudden everything clicked into place and you realise what a close partnership there is between the charity and the unit to make sure that as a parent all you need to worry about is your child. Everything else is taken care of.”

Martha, pictured as a new born, in recovery from her open heart surgery.

The Fund has supported the heart unit since 1988, providing life-saving medical equipment, helping families and siblings and now also providing them with holistic care and well-being programmes.

Sharon Milner, CHSF’s CEO, said: “Paul is a terrific advocate for our charity having been inspired by heart warrior Martha, and he is incredibly passionate about our cause.

“To have his experience as chair of the board of trustees is absolutely priceless and we are thrilled that has chosen to take on this challenge for the CHSF.

“The Leeds Congenital Heart Unit is quite rightly regarded as a world-class centre of excellence but donations are crucial to ensure the best possible outcomes for present and future heart patients and their families.

“Please help us support hearts for life.”

*YEP's Have a Heart campaign

The Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Have a Heart campaign to help the Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) reach its £1m target for donations last year.

The Fund provides vital support to the congenital heart unit at Leeds Children's Hospital.

Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit, CHSF was forced to issue an urgent plea for donations after losing a "significant portion" of its yearly income.

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