Darren digs deep for heart group

Roger Bailey, Heartbeat chairman, trainer Philip Crosland and walk leaders Jeff Wheelwright, Paule Marie Trott, Christiane Sutcliffe and Trevor Trott
Roger Bailey, Heartbeat chairman, trainer Philip Crosland and walk leaders Jeff Wheelwright, Paule Marie Trott, Christiane Sutcliffe and Trevor Trott

CIVIL servant Darren Sharp was given a new lease of life after joining a Brighouse support group.

Now he too is helping to save lives to say ‘thank you’ for the encouragement he received to fight his way back to health.

Overweight and a smoker, Darren suffered a heart attack in May 2010 and needed emergency surgery at Leeds General Infirmary. As he recovered he knew a radical change of lifestyle was called for and he joined the Brighouse Heartbeat Group in a bid to regain his fitness. He lost five stones in weight, stopped smoking, cut back on his alcohol intake and started regular exercise classes run by Heartbeat at Brighouse Adult Education Centre.

Now fitter than he has been for the past 25 years, he recently completed his first charity run - and has raised more than £1,100 for Heartbeat.

“This organisation has helped me so much to get back to fitness and given me every support and encouragement,” said Darren who completed the 10k Jane Tomlinson Run in York in 44 minutes, six minutes faster than his target time and finishing in a creditable 276th place out of a field of 4,523 competitors.

Now bitten by the running bug, Darren, aged 45, is planning to run a half marathon next spring and is aiming for a full marathon in autumn 2012.

Heartbeat, which is affiliated to the British Heart Foundation, has used the sponsorship money raised by Darren to buy a portable heart defibrillator which will be available at the group’s classes and on its Saturday health walks.

It’s a useful piece of kit which gives confidence and peace of mind to walk leaders, instructors and class members alike.

Chairman Roger Bailey said: “It’s one of those things we wanted to invest in in the hope that we would never have to use it! When you’ve had a heart attack or heart problems it makes you nervous and uncertain about taking exercise and in particular going on a walk which might take you off the beaten track. We believe that having the portable heart defibrillator to hand will give reassurance to both walkers and leaders.”

Philip Crossland from Imperative Training has been teaching walk leaders how to use the new equipment and more than 20 volunteer members have also been learning how to assist.

“Darren did a fantastic job in raising so much money to help Heartbeat and has enabled us to buy this vital piece of equipment. We know that speed is crucial when someone has suffered a heart attack and to have a defibrillator available for our use will be of great benefit. We are investing £500 in training our leaders and volunteers,” said Roger.

Heartbeat classes continue to go from strength to strength, with numbers rising from 24 three years ago to almost 260 currently on the books.

Roger attributes the group’s success to its friendly, sociable atmosphere. “People come to us from most parts of Calderdale and it’s getting to the point where we are thinking we will have to put on an extra class to cater for those who want to join. We even get people asking to join when they haven’t had any heart trouble - I think they see us having a good time and want to be part of it but we have to turn them away.”

For more information contact www.heartbeat.uk.com or Roger Bailey on 01422 204928.