Fundraising throughout 2021 was not without its challenges but Walsall Healthcare’s Well Wishers charity was determined to keep things ticking over to help to pay for items above and beyond what the NHS is able to provide.
Another busy 12 months is being planned but just before the charity looks ahead to 2022, it wants to take an opportunity to recognise one of its champions from 2021.
Former patient Ian Hawkins handed over a bumper £20,000 thank you to Walsall Manor Hospital’s ICU and Critical Care Rehabilitation Team which supported him throughout his recovery from COVID-19.
Ian’s family set up an initial £10,000 fundraiser back in June 2020 which they wanted to go towards rehabilitation equipment and to create an outside space for recovering patients. Fast forward a year and Ian set himself an ambitious second fundraiser – a 26 mile walk from Walsall Manor Hospital to Chasewater along the canal network.
He worked with Well Wishers and pledged to raise another £10,000 towards as his way of saying thank you to the team for getting him back on his feet and able to enjoy life at home.
The father-of-two, his family, friends and staff from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust all took part and just under £9,000 was raised. Generous business contacts of Ian’s then topped the money up to hit the £10,000 target.
Ian said: “I left hospital last June after being admitted in March but that was just one step on the road to my recovery – it’s the work that goes on afterwards with the rehabilitation team that I’m sure many people don’t realise is just as vital as the work that has gone into helping you survive critical care. The physical interventions and support, along with the emotional and psychological input, can’t be under-estimated.”
Ian, 57, was admitted to hospital on 29 March after developing Covid-19 symptoms and experiencing breathing difficulties. Within 24 hours he was placed on full ventilation and over the next few weeks he suffered pneumonia, sepsis, multiple-organ failure and a secondary bacterial infection.
His recovery was filmed as part of a focus by ITV News on how the virus has affected Walsall’s community as a whole. The footage showed Ian’s wife Helen, son and daughter Oliver and Georgia, and daughter-in-law Linda being able to see him through one of the unit’s windows. Oliver, whose daughter Mia – Ian’s first grandchild – was born during his first week in ICU, held the baby up to the window so that her grandfather could see her. And at one point Ian was able to have his bed outside to be reunited with his beloved dog Indi.
Ian has since become a grandfather for the second time following the birth of grandson Koby in August.
Ian and Helen visited Fundraising Manager Georgie Westley back in the summer to hand over the second cheque.
Georgie said: “It was wonderful to see them and Ian said he is recovering well and keeping up his exercise – especially his walking.
“He is thinking about his next personal challenge and Well Wishers hopes to work with him again on another joint fundraiser; we’re thinking of a summer ball in 2022 so watch this space!”
She added a huge thank you to everyone who has raised money for Well Wishers, either through events or donations, and helped to support the charity over the last 12 months.