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The idea of the Charity Oars came about after a rather difficult 3 years. In 2011 I suffered a massive pulmonary embolism after a trauma to my right leg, the journey since that date has (at times) been anything but a bundle of laughs. Good days were far outnumbered by bad days. But you have to be strong and be resilient and above all you have to (even during the darkest of days) believe that health issues (both physical and mental) will improve and that you will find a way to live with the results of the trauma.
Ever since the 12th April 2011, I had been supported by Thrombosis UK (formerly Lifeblood the Thrombosis Charity) and I always wanted to give something back so that their valuable work could continue. The half marathon was to be my final swansong before I disappeared into the background.
In 2013 I had been in training for a half marathon, my intentions were to raise awareness and funds for Thrombosis UK. Things were going “well” right up until the 16th August when my wife and I were the unlucky recipients of a careless driver in a Mercedes who, whilst driving was otherwise distracted.
Well after the run in with the chap in the Mercedes, it was decided that a safer and “keep Paul out of harm’s way” plan should be thought up.
The Charity Oars have been handcrafted by Jack Westerman, a talented and exceptionally creative boat builder and there they sat in my office (the Old Village Sweet Shop) slowly collecting dust. It was then I started thinking of the novel idea of getting the Oars signed by sportsmen and women, television and film stars as well as popular public figures and then auction them off in support of Thrombosis UK.
And so “Charity Oars” was born.
During the journey so far, there have been three things that have struck me.
Firstly, the generosity of the people who we’ve met so far, their warmth and support has been uplifting and in a lot of ways has helped in my personal journey of recuperation. Busy sportsmen and women, actors, politicians (well, Boris Johnson the London Mayor) have all given their time to meet and to talk to us about what the Charity Oars are really about.
Secondly, the misconception of Thrombosis and the lack of awareness of the condition. What exactly it is and how it can affect you, your loved ones, family and friends. When you mention DVT’s the overriding response is always “you get those if you fly a lot don’t you?” Awareness is key to surviving. Sadly the lack of awareness goes far beyond people like you and me, even within the medical profession there is still a truly national failing within key personnel who do not fully understand or are aware of the signs of DVT’s or Pulmonary Embolisms.
Finally and most importantly is the fact that people want to know … It’s truly amazing the effect that a chap walking around London, using the underground whilst carrying two wooden oars covered in signatures has on people. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to so many people and being able to discuss a very serious message, yet in a manner that enables the discussion to be very informal. You never know who you might have reached with the message, that’s what makes the whole campaign so exciting.
As the Charity Oars travel around the country, we become aware (almost on a daily basis) of people who have either directly been affected by DVT’s or Pulmonary Embolisms, or have loved ones, friends or work colleagues who have suffered from a life threatening blood clot.
Surely it’s time to “speak up about Thrombosis” .....