A Daventry woman is fronting a British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaign to promote the charity’s series of once-in-a-lifetime treks and challenge events.
Lesley Brown, aged 55, is supporting the BHF’s campaign after being one of 3,500 people who took part in a trek or challenge event last year.
She signed up to do the Great Wall of China trek in October 2015 just seven months after her husband died from a cardiac arrest.
She is now encouraging others to take on a similar challenge, from a 100k trek in the UK to an overseas adventure, by sharing her story and speaking to radio stations across the nation.
Lesley explains: “On 6 March 2015, my husband Keith and I were packing for a skiing holiday after saying goodbye to their grandchildren, who were staying over the night before. Keith was taking medicine for high blood pressure and led a healthy lifestyle, but suddenly started to feel unwell.
“I left the room for only minutes before rushing back into the room after hearing Keith shout my name – his final word before he collapsed on the sofa after suffering a cardiac arrest. I tried to wake him but realised something was seriously wrong. I immediately called 999, and administered life saving CPR for 20 minutes, trying to keep my loving husband alive.
“Paramedics tried to save his life for another 40 minutes after they arrived, but it was too late.
“In a split second, my life changed forever. No warning. No goodbye.
“Keith tragically died aged just 57, exactly the same age as his mother, who also passed way from a cardiac arrest.
“At the funeral, I raised £1,000 for the BHF, and realised that focusing on something positive was a way to keep going. Taking two months off work, I headed to the BHF’s website and signed up to the Great Wall of China Trek – an iconic landmark Keith and I had hoped to visit together one day.
“Travelling alone for the first time was a daunting experience, but I soon became part of a likeminded, but inspiring group of people, all coming together in the fight against heart disease.
“Led by one of our experts, I travelled across the famous wall to Beijing and raised thousands of pounds for our life saving research to help stop more people like my husband from having their lives cut short by heart disease.
“I met Keith at 16 and every day is still a challenge. But taking on these BHF challenges is my way of leaving a legacy in Keith’s name and helping stop others from going through the same loss.
“Next year, I am doing the BHF’s Icelandic Lava Trek and I’m encouraging others to take on a similar challenge to gain a sense of achievement and wanderlust like no other.”
People can take on an adventure of a lifetime through either self-funding or by fundraising. To find out more about our programme of overseas challenges, visit bhf.org.uk/world or contact the events team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0844 847 2788.