Heart failure changed IT worker's life as he takes on 100 mile bike ride and marathon five years after "dismal" diagnosis

Five years ago Richard Cleverley did no exercise, drank, smoked and was diagnosed with heart failure.

By Emma Ryan
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 4:40 pm

As he heads into 2022 - he is planning a series of running challenges, including The Great North Run, and is learning to swim so he can undertake a triathlon. It follows a year which has seen him do Leeds Half Marathon, the London Marathon, the 182 mile Coast to Coast walk and the 100 mile Ride London cycle challenge.

Mr Cleverley's shock diagnosis, at the age of 46, prompted him to change his life and as a result of that, and fund-raising through his new found love of running, he has been awarded the “Never Give Up Award”, a discretionary award presented to individuals by the chief executive officer of the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, the heart failure charity.

He is now also a trustee of the foundation, which he said provided him with the support and inspiration to change his life.

Richard Cleverley is now a regular runner in his local area and is pictured training in Bramley Park near his home.

CEO and founder, Nick Hartshorne-Evans, said: “I remember when we first met. I remember when you finished the 2021 London Marathon. For somebody, who by your own

admission was not an athlete, deciding post diagnosis to do all the physical challenges you have done, culminating in the London Marathon, epitomises a ‘Never Give Up’ spirit. We are

so pleased to call you inspirational.”

It was April 2016 when he started feeling ill and dismissed it as flu as his wife had had it, however, it kept getting worse and wouldn't go. He couldn't walk more than 30 yards and had trouble eating, swollen ankles, was unable to sleep properly and would nap on the sofa because it was too hard to get upstairs.

Richard Cleverley says having heart failure changed his life. He is now a trustee of the Pumping Marvellous Foundation - the UK's heart failure charity.

Eventually his wife convinced him to go to the doctor and he was sent for blood tests and then further tests at St James' Hospital. In August that year he was diagnosed with heart failure.

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He was sent by blue-light to Leeds General Infirmary and spent four weeks in hospital and had 25 kilos of fluid drained from his body - including 10 kilograms in one night.

But that four weeks and the diagnosis were to change the IT worker's life.

He said: "I decided things had to change, my lifestyle had to change. I was a smoker, went to the pub too much and did no excercise at all."

On-line support groups led by Pumping Marvellous were "wonderful" and encouraged him to take up running.

"I thought I would do a couple of park runs and stuff like that and in April 2017 I did my first fundraiser for the Pumping Marvellous Foundation."

After that he worked up to a 10k, then half marathons and in October completed the London Marathon. In 2019 he did the Coast to Coast hike, in May he did Ride London and is now starting swimming training for a triathlon.

He added: "As a child I hated sport and avoided at every opportunity. Anybody I know, if you had said six years ago what I would be doing they would look at me as if I was mad. It sounds strange, but in some ways, heart failure has been a positive for me because of the ways that I have changed my lifestyle. I still work remotely but rather than live to work, I work to live. I do my job but make sure I take time for me.

"I don't do these things for me but it is really nice to get some recognition. There are so many people who do amazing things for the charity and to be picked to be one of the recipients is brilliant and means a lot."


Heart failure is a life-threatening condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. It affects approximately a million people in the UK and is a chronic disease where around half of patients will die within five years of diagnosis.

Heart failure mortality risk is worse than some of the most common cancers (prostate, breast, and bladder cancer) and is the leading cause of hospitalisation for those over the age

of 65.

The Pumping Marvellous Foundation has been running a national campaign, BeatHF, to raise awareness and to make heart failure clearer for everyone. Symptoms can include Breathless, Exhausted, Ankle Swelling, Time for a blood test.

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