Coast-to-coast walking challenge for heart failure patient from Leeds

Richard Cleverley.
Richard Cleverley.
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He was left at death's door after months of deepening illness caused by the hidden health menace of heart failure.

But, three years on, Richard Cleverley is well and truly back on his feet, an inspirational example of the impact that modern medicine can have when matched with a person's determination to make the most of a second chance.

Richard Cleverley at Roundhay Park in Leeds, in training for his forthcoming coast-to-coast walk.

Richard Cleverley at Roundhay Park in Leeds, in training for his forthcoming coast-to-coast walk.

And the 49-year-old Leeds dad is now preparing to tackle a charity challenge that underlines just how far he has come since he was diagnosed with chronic left ventricular heart failure in his touch-and-go summer of 2016.

He will be setting out at the end of this month on a 192-mile coast-to-coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay.

Richard hopes the walk – which should take about two weeks to complete – will raise hundreds of pounds for a patient-led heart failure charity called the Pumping Marvellous Foundation.

But, perhaps even more crucially, he also wants to improve awareness of his condition, which affects around 920,000 people in the UK alone.

Richard, a freelance website developer from Gipton, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Whenever I tell someone I have heart failure, they invariably think I had a heart attack.

"I didn't – the phrase 'heart failure' covers a whole range of problems and the public's awareness of them is pretty poor at the moment.

"It's hugely important that people recognise the symptoms of heart failure so they go to their GP and receive the correct treatment early."

Richard first fell ill in May 2016 but – thinking he had nothing more serious than a recurring case of flu – did not see a doctor until August.

By that stage, he was struggling to walk more than 20 feet and, he later discovered, was also carrying 20 litres of excess fluid.

Tests revealed he was on the verge of major organ failure caused in part by his heart's inability to properly pump nutrient-rich oxygenated blood around his body.

Richard spent four weeks in Leeds General Infirmary and is now on daily medication to manage his condition.

He has also stopped smoking, given up drinking and started leading a more active lifestyle that last year saw him participating in the Leeds 10K and Abbey Dash running events.

This year he is aiming to walk or run a total of 1,000 miles, with the coast-to-coast trek being the biggest single challenge he will undertake.

"I'm nervous but excited as well," said Richard, who is full of praise for both the staff at LGI and the support provided by Pumping Marvellous.

"It's a long way and, although I am being joined by various people at different stages, I will probably be on my own for a lot of the time.

"It will definitely be worth it – this will be the longest I've taken off work since I was in hospital, so the break should really do me good as well!"

To contribute to Richard's fundraising, visit the web page.