Have a Heart: It's personal for dad taking over key role at Leeds' Children's Heart Surgery Fund

When doctors told Paul Goodwin they would wait to operate on his newborn baby, he presumed they meant it would be months away.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:45 am

In fact, the situation was so serious that little Martha Goodwin needed open heart surgery aged just six days old.

She had a serious but rare congenital heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries, where the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed.

Luckily the surgery went well and Martha, now five, was able to go home with mum Sophie and dad Paul days later.

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Incoming Chairman of Trustees Paul Goodwin chats with parents Amy Walker and Rob Duck with their young children, Rio, 15 months, and baby Olivia, 11 weeks.

Tough as it was to see their baby go through so much so young, the Goodwin's experience was made that much more bearable by the wonderful care they received from the Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), which included accommodation and offers of counselling and job support.

"We were put in a position where all we had to worry about was Martha," said Paul, 52.

Martha is now thriving - "she's started martial arts, she's a little bruiser," Paul joked - and the family want to give something back to the Leeds charity.

So Paul, who works for a global HR consulting firm, has now taken on the role of Chairman of Trustees at CHSF.

Martha in hospital.

He met outgoing chairman Andy Chilton and CEO Sharon Milner last month at the heart unit for a tour and to introduce himself to some of the families on the ward.

"I walked past the bed Martha was in. It all came flooding back," said Paul, who lives in Mirfield with his family.

"I am able to empathise with the parents, with what they will be feeling. I get them.

"I felt very proud, but it was tinged with a little bit of emotion."

Incoming Chairman of Trustees Paul Goodwin, left, and outgoing Chair Andy Chilton, with fund CEO Sharon Milner.

Paul, who will serve a five-year term as chairman, will use his expertise to advise and support the charity.

"I see my role as helping Sharon and the team to make decisions about who to support, how best to expand and get greater exposure," he said.

Paul also praised the YEP's Have a Heart campaign, adding that he was now in a position to really appreciate how much it can bring.

He said: "When people and organisations put their hands in their pockets and get involved, what it does it allows for the parents to just focus on their children and them getting better. They know that everything is being taken care of.

"The feeling that families get from knowing world-class equipment is supporting world class clinical staff is priceless."

To donate or to sign up to Wear Red Day:

Visit chsf.org.uk/donate to give a one-off donation or to set up a regular, direct debit donation.

Or pay cheques to: Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at 3 Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3AX

To take part in Wear Red Day this Friday, February 7, visit chsf.org.uk/wear-red-day for a free fundraising pack

For those doing Wear Red Day, visit https://justgiving.com/campaign/wearredday2020 to donate.