The Charity Oars Auction “End of an Era”

Well the day is fast approaching ……

The Date? 6th December 2018

The venue? Well it’s one of England’s finest Country Houses, it also happens to be owned by one of the signatories of the Charity Oars, and the chaps Nephews, well let’s just say “Royalty” ….. Yes, on the 6th December the Charity Oars are being auctioned at the wonderful Althorp House, home of Charles Spencer. We can’t wait …!

We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been offered the opportunity of joining in with the Testimonial Dinner of NCCC cheeky Aussie, Steven “Crooky” Crook …! Us cricketer’s are so imaginative with nicknames aren’t we.

In 2018 Crooky has been given a testimonial year as he hangs up his gloves, pads, bat and a very well worn hat…! We got to know Crooky over the years and his support for the Charity Oars has been so very welcomed, as has been the support of everyone at NCCC.

The evening is being hosted by (another) good friend of the Charity Oars, the one and only Rev Richard Coles, it’s going to be a fantastic evening, and it’s wonderful to be able to support Crooky and his “Runs4Funds” nominated charities as well as Thrombosis UK and others.

So, we started the Charity Oars awareness campaign in late 2014, and the Oars have since then taken on a life of their own. They’ve met Royalty, Sporting Legends, World famous actors, been to Parliament, been on stage with Billy Connolly, oh, they also met Boris Johnson (and discuss) LOL ….!

The idea behind the Charity Oars was to raise awareness of Thrombosis, to raise awareness of Thrombosis UK and their great work within Research, Care and Awareness of the “Number One Cause of Preventable Deaths in Hospital”. As the Charity Oars have (quietly) gone about their work, it has been inspiring, and at times worrying as to what is truly known about Thrombosis (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism), but with the awareness that we’ve been able to raise since 2014, we know of 12 lives that have been saved. This means, 12 families with a mother, father, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle or best friend. Not bad for two 8 foot pieces of wood…!

At this juncture, I want to send a “HUGE” thank you to my nephew, Jack Westerman. He made the Charity Oars by hand as part of his boat building course at the IBTC in Lowestoft. Not only are both the Charity Oars truly beautiful works of craftsmanship, but they are truly works of art. I’ve been truly proud to tell everyone whose met, signed or talked to us, that a skilled craftsman made both Charity Oars, by hand. Such skill, craftsmanship, creativity is something that does “NOT” run in my blood….!!

Thank you Jack, you make me so proud, every day …!

OK, gushiness done with.

Every penny raised will be donated with a cheery smile and a hearty salute of thanks. I’ve been asked many times recently; “Will you miss the Charity Oars?”

I will, there’s no denying it. For the past 4 years they’ve been such an important part of my life. They were the impetus that supported me since 2011, got me through some very dark days, got me talking again, gave me a goal, and, in many ways, saved me.

Knowing the impact that the Charity Oars have had in the wider circle, the lives that we’ve quite literally saved, the support, empathy, guidance and fun we’ve given has been huge. We’re now in the process of setting up a small company (www.rbractive.com @rbractive) RBR is focused on Thrombosis research and clinical trials. We’ve been working in Partnership with one of the World’s most eminent Professors within Respiratory and Thrombolytic medicine. On the 11th April 2011 (PE day – 1) I would never have said that this would be my future life, my career path. So with that in mind, maybe the Massive Pulmonary Embolism that lead to me collapsing dead in the “ensuite of doom” actually wasn’t a bad thing.

To Ellisa, 9 days before we were to marry and I ended up a “tad” dead and naked in the ensuite of doom. Now, 7 years later, you’re my bastion of sanity, strength and love. To Jack and Tom, it takes a lot for me to die (the inheritance will have to wait … LOL), Steph, Liam, Chris, Collette, James and Shona. Thank you for your patience, support, love and understanding.

As for my parents, well, sorry to have scared you …!

We have no idea what the Charity Oars will raise on the 6th December, but have a look at the names below, and celebrate the support we’ve had from some amazing people.

If you’d like to make a bid, please drop me an email at charityoars@gmail.com put quite simply by many auctioneers; “there’s nothing like this anywhere”.

Make a bid, have something truly unique and (most importantly) support some amazing charities.

Thank you

Westers …!

Stephen Merchant           Miles Jupp                 Saif Zaib                     Will Satch

Devon Malcolm                Mathew Pinsent        Austin Healey            Joe Root     

Rory Kleinveldt                James Taylor            Craig Doyle                Paul Grayson

Oliver Phelps                   Dean Headley            Zoe Lee                      Simon Jones

Derek Redmund               Steve Coogan           Ian Stone                   Geraint Jones

Liam Plunkett                   Jonny Walton            Allen Lamb                Jos Buttler

Gary Balance                    Jeremy Sallis            James Phelps           Martin Corry      

Jordanne Whiley              Boris Johnson           David Murphy            Steven Crook

Gordon Greenidge           Rob Newton              Alex Wakely                Richard Levi

Jonny Bairstow                Martin Bayfield          Graeme White           Rob Keogh 

Muhammad Azharullah   Ellie Robinson           Helen Glover             Ben Duckett

Tanni Grey Thompson    David Willey                Maurice Chambers   Kyle Coetzer

Kumar Sangakkara         Charles Spencer           Billy Connolly            Alex Best 

Professor James Logan         Hannah Cockroft       Fern Britton           Ed Stanton

Doctor Dawn Harper               Michael Atherton      Ben Brown            Matt Lucas

Ashley Giles                             Ben Morgan               Sacha Harding       Harry Peck

Clare Balding                           James Pritchard        Brendan Burke      Lyn Brown

Richard Coles                          George Nash             Jason Gillespi       John Regis

Wojciech Szczesny                 Naseer Hussain         Jennifer Stoute     Rob Keys

Andrew Triggs Hodge            Dara O’Briain             Laura Bingham     Paul Young

Nick Robinson                         Alec Stewart              Jack Russell          Jade Jones

Andrew Gwynne                     Gyles Brandreth       Charlie Martell       Callum Hall

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Althorp Estate meets the Charity Oars @cspencer1508

So, we pressed the “gate open” button …..

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Erm, it’s the Charity Oars for Earl Spencer …..” trying to sound important….

“Welcome to the Estate, turn right, go straight on, turn left, continue, turn right ….” Then there were mentions of cattle grids, a bridge, a “house”, cars, stables ….! I lost attention at the first “turn right”. What could possibly go wrong?

3 hours later, and an explanation to Northamptonshire Constabulary….. I jest…! I basically followed the signs, beeped a few sheep, and for a short moment became; “Lord of the Manor” with an 8 foot Charity Oar….!! (no euphemism meant)

So. We made our way through the Stables, there was a finely attired chap, to wit I approached in conversation …. Whilst my head was saying; “don’t sound like a comprehensive school chap, for they will surely take umbrage at such a commoner being so close to the Nobility.” So with my best Miles Jupp impression I said (to aforementioned finely attired chap) …. “Direct me to Charles my good man…..!!!” Turns out, calling an Earl “Charles” gains a lot of Kudos…. At this juncture I should comment, I knew that Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, DL, a British nobleman, peer, author, print journalist, and broadcaster, and was the younger brother of Diana, Princess of Wales, was not “at home”. So I was fairly confident I wasn’t going to end up in the Tower of London…..!!!

We had the absolute pleasure of meeting Alison and she kindly took charge of the “Port Charity Oar.” It’s interesting that whenever the Charity Oars meet new people, not only does it allow for us to informally introduce into a relaxed conversation the signs of a DVT (never easy to do if you walk up to a stranger and start going “would you know the signs of a DVT?”) I trust Alison won’t mind me saying this, but she knew only too well of the effect of a DVT and Pulmonary Embolism. Empathy of such a condition, either personally, through a family member, friend or work colleague, is a very powerful connection. I can’t thank Alison enough for her kind assistance.

A couple of days later, Charles Spencer tweeted the Charity Oars a wonderful photo, and kindly offered us a hearty salute of good fortune. Such a gesture of support carries such a wave of confidence, drive and it further pushes us to continue such a wonderfully positive campaign going.

So from little old me, a salute of thanks to Earl Charles Spencer, to Alison and to everyone at the Althorp Estate.

Some wonderful events at the Althorp Estate, why not visit (mention the Charity Oars, you won’t get a discount, but I’m pretty sure Charles will put the kettle on…..!! this might not be true..!)

THE 15TH ANNUAL ALTHORP LITERARY FESTIVAL WILL TAKE PLACE ON 

FRIDAY 5TH OCTOBER – SUNDAY 7TH OCTOBER, 2018.

On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of May 2018 The Althorp Estate are delighted to be hosting the 4th annual Althorp Food and Drink Festival.

 

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly …!

(plagarised lines) A long time ago, in a life, far far away ……!

I started writing this piece a couple of weeks ago, some out there might know the feeling when you feel a certain way and you believe that others will never understand, that said, 2 weeks on, dips are no longer dips, love is still love, friendship is stronger than ever, and cricket still makes me laugh. Thank you Crooky ….!

On the 12th April 2011 I collapsed a tad dead in the en-suite. A blood clot had travelled through my deep veins, into my lungs and heart. The damage it caused “enroute” at times since that day, has been, lets say, problematic. That said, with the support of the #NHS , loved one’s, family, friends I have made huge strides to regain my life, and strides will always be taken.

Then ……

On the 16th August 2013, my lovely wife (Ellisa) and I were caught up in an horrific RTC. Apparently, if you drive a huge Mercedes you’re allowed to speed, use your mobile phone (allegedly) and run directly into people (don’t think this is actually in the Mercedes Owners Manual). So there I was 60 feet down the road from our car, a tad broken, as it turns out I was also full of holes and rather “open” in places. The lovely Ellisa, well she had “boinged” over the safety barrier and landed on the verge….! True this sounds a lot more romantic than the actual reality. Translate “boinged” to “crash bam wallop”, and “landed on the verge” translate to; “missed all of the Mc Donald’s litter, Coke cans, traffic cones .. etc … etc ..etc …!!”.

The huge strides that I had taken post April 2011, were now being hugely tested. I discharged myself from hospital the following day from the RTC, my concern over my safety and health had been challenged when I was refused my lifesaving medication by a nurse, as the doctor “had signed that I had already had it.” I had not. I had to leave Ellisa in hospital and that was one of the worst moments of my life.

Consequences of the RTC? Well good old PTSD came galloping back into my life, depression knocked on the door and said hello, and my self worth (in my mind) plummeted.

At times like these, I tend to look back at a lot of things, I loved my days playing cricket, the competition, the friendships formed and just a little bit of exercise…! When you realise that a career in the sport you love is not going to be an option, I had built a very successful career in the City, ending up as Director of Marketing and Communications for a FTSE 100 Finance organisation. I loved it, work was hard, busy, intrusive but ultimately fun.

So there I was in August 2013 dealing with the demons in my head again. I had survived before, and this challenge wasn’t going to stop me. There, sat in my office at home (The Old Village Sweet Shop) were the Charity Oars, and so the journey back to life began.

Having made contact with my good friend Dean Headly, we had our first signature, rehabilitation and confidence building began. As the campaign of awareness (that is the Charity Oars) progressed, we’ve met some truly amazing sportspeople, actors, actresses, musicians, politicians and crazy adventurers.

All was looking rosy …….!! Then last month, we received a report from one of the specialists who are supporting our legal case against the driver of the afore mentioned Mercedes. In a single sentence, within the report, my life was turned upside down; “Paul will likely never be able to return to work.”

Such a statement bought me down to earth with a thump. Having what we perceived would sadly be the result of the RTC, it made it nonetheless traumatic to read it in a report. Those in the know, will understand that I took a major “dip”, my good friend for a crisis Mr Gordon and his chum eau de tonic raised their cheery numbing heads…! Hitting a dip is scary, you can’t stop it, loved ones know but can’t do anything, it just takes time, awareness and yet more strength.

A week into the dip, I had the absolute pleasure to be attending Crooky’s Runs4Funds charity cricket day at Althorp Hall. The day was in support of a local charity called Alfe’s Cause. Could I cope with attending? Could I cope with the travel, the day, with “mingling”…!….?

Turns out Crooky and Alfe’s Cause are one of Life’s tonics ……!

During the day, Karen, Alfe’s mother gave a heartwarming story of her son’s journey through being diagnosed with cancer, his treatment and now his desire for the charity to help others. Karen explained about the bead rope that Alfe was holding, it was a timeline of his treatment. From days in hospital, blood transfusions, surgery and remission. This young chaps life, all in a long string of beads, a timeline of his and his families journey through diagnosis and treatment.

As the day progressed, I had the pleasure of chatting with Karen, her empathy and understanding of the implications of mental health on survivors, their loved ones and family was natural and respectful. It inspired me and gave me back my strength and focus.

On the drive home, I reexamined the sentence in the report; “Paul will likely never be able to return to work.” That part of my life is now over, I know I can’t return to it, saying goodbye to what was a strong and secure career I knew wouldn’t be easy, but 4 years on I now had to face up to this fact. Since the RTC in 2013 I have faced and overcome many new challenges, the Charity Oars have been therapeutic as well as bags of fun. We have literally saved lives, raised awareness of Thrombosis UK, of the signs of a DVT and met some of the worlds best sportspeople, actors, comedians, musicians and politicians (and Boris Johnson) …! lol…! Sorry Boris old chap….!

The support I have personally received from so many people has an immense impact on my life. I’ve made some true friends at County Cricket Clubs, International players, comedians, broadcasters, Olympians, Paralympians, agents, personal assistant’s and other charity supporters.

I guess what I’m trying to say is Thank You to all of those people who have supported me and the Charity Oars, supported me through some very dark days, and to everyone who knew that the Charity Oars would become something that would be a crazy and at times a “wacky” way of raising awareness of Thrombosis and the charity Thrombosis UK.

So there I was, driving home. Good chum Crooky had been a wonderful host, it had been a pleasure to support Alfe’s Cause and everything that Runs4Funds were working so hard to support. We had again met some amazing sportsmen and women, it was a real pleasure to meet and have a chat with Ellie Robinson, she truly is a real diamond. Still love the walk she gave at the Paralympics in Brazil.

So I returned home, sat down with the lovely Ellisa and we talked. Hours later we were still talking. Life apparently should be easy, that said, a boring life might be easy, but one filled with challenges, mischief, fun and mayhem, albeit more challenging, will be a much more excitable rollercoaster of a road.

So I survived a massive pulmonary embolism, survived a very serious RTC, I shan’t mention my rugby tackle of a Labrador, but life and all its adventures ahead are going to be so much fun.

So let’s keep raising awareness of Thrombosis UK, DVT awareness, and realizing that out there in the big old world, there’s so many people, cultures, religions all f whom offer friendship, guidance, support, laughter and peace…!

Charity Oars meet Crickets living legend James Taylor @jamestaylor20

Well a cheery drive up to the County Ground was today’s outing for yours truly. With Alex Wakely and his squad facing Worcestershire in the Royal London One Day Cup, we’d arranged to meet up with James Taylor (ex England and Nottinghamshire CCC) and now RLOD coach at NCCC.

We’d been following the career of James for quite a while, an immensely talented batsman having become the youngest Leicestershire one-day centurion and first-class double centurion. In 2009, James also became the youngest player in Leicestershire’s history to score 1,000 championship runs in a season.

Having represented England at under-19 level and captained the England Lions, James made his One Day International (ODI) debut for England in August 2011. In December 2011, Taylor signed a contract to play for Nottinghamshire and the following summer he made his England Test debut when he faced South Africa at Headingly.

On 12 April 2016, it was announced that James had been forced to retire from cricket following the diagnosis of a serious heart condition called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

Having seen James play a few times, his natural aptitude, talent, timing and cricketing brain made for some amazing games, his influence on games often proved to be the pivotal moments that turned games around. No better example was the sublime catch that made sure of England’s seven-wicket win over South Africa in Johannesburg; it’s well worth a watch…! Click here

 

So today we caught up with James in between coaching sessions at the County Ground (Northampton). For an elite sportsman, to have a potentially world class career taken away due to ill health could well have been one hurdle too many to get over. Yet, to see James now actively involved in the game again, coaching and passing on his expertise and knowledge to others is a testament to his drive and determination. To live with a hidden condition is not an easy thing to come to terms with. But the support he’s had from the cricket world, family, friends and fans will be with him well into his grey haired days (yes James, it happens to us all….!!!).

It was a pleasure and somewhat of delight to have a few minutes of James’s time today, to know that with support, strength, humour and a love for life and cricket, no matter how grey some days may be, you can go on and enjoy a future that (albeit) different from the original destination will be a future that encompasses every element of the game of cricket; team work, camaraderie, commitment and competition (with bucket loads of fun), it’s truly amazing how we can all make a huge impact and difference to those around us.

So, from an aged, tad broken, achy, gone grey, with an expanding waistline and a need for more medication than is deemed reasonable cricketer. Thank You….!!

Keep making a difference.

Regards

Westers

James Taylor:

Twenty Twenty – 34.54 average, top score of 62*

First Class – 46.06 average, top score 291

ODI’s – 42.23 average, top score 101

Test – 26.00 average, top score 76

For more information on arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) please click here.

For fixtures and results of the Royal London One Day competition please click here

 

Walking the Amazon and Cycling across South America, the @charityoars meet two amazing adventurer’s @laurabingham93 and @Ed_Stafford (oh, and their huge, wet, muddy dogs..!)

 

We’d been chatting to Laura Bingham (@laurabingham93) about the Charity Oars and trying to comprehend why someone would voluntarily cycle across South America with only the equipment she can fit in her panniers. Well it turns out this amazing adventuress had in fact completed such a journey.

Laura had cycled the Pacific Coast of Ecuador, over the Andes, through the Amazon jungle until finally reaching Buenos Aires – and the Atlantic Ocean. If this feat wasn’t tough enough, Laura undertook the entire expedition completely unsupported and with no money, only her extraordinary resourcefulness and daring.

In my mind, such a person deservedly warranted a place on the Charity Oars…!

Well, it turns out that crazy adventurers attract each other and we also had the pleasure of meeting Ed Stafford @Ed_Stafford (aka Mr Adventurer to Laura’s Mrs Adventurer). Ed had become the first man to walk the length of the Amazon River in South America from the source to the sea. He walked for 860 days. No one had ever done what he attempted. In fact Sir Ranulph Fiennes said of the adventurer:

“Truly extraordinary in the top league of expeditions past and present.”

Ed now passes on his adventure skills, passion and motivation on the Discovery Channel, as well as proudly being a Scouts Ambassador, motivating the next generation of boys and girls to explore our amazing planet.

It was a real pleasure to meet Laura and Ed and to have their support for the Charity Oars campaign, raising awareness of Thrombosis UK and the signs of DVT’s and Pulmonary Embolism (Thrombosis). #ThankYou

Ah yes, their big, wet and muddy dogs ……. Funny Story ……

In their garden they have a beautiful lake, their dogs are kept safely away from said “wet and muddy” lake by the means of a gate. True, we did walk through, close the gate, took a couple of photo’s and walked back through. At this juncture, my lovely wife may have forgotten to close the gate….!! Oh well, what could possibly go wrong ……!!

Here’s a huge thank you to two amazing people who are bringing the world and its adventurers to us all. Please have a look at their websites for more information.

www.edstafford.org           www.laurabingham.org

A big cheque from the family and friends of #Tomo and @BerkoFC

The motorway God’s looked kindly on me today as I joined the M1 at junction 13…..!! No road works, no lorry spilling its wares across the carriageway and not even a white van precariously positioned on its side….. Today was a good day …

As I drove down to Berkhamstead FC for the presentation, it’s strange that the memory of Tomo, a chap I’d never met, was still fresh (even) in my memory. His passing because of an undiagnosed DVT felt even more poignant than when I had attended the charity football match a couple of weeks ago.

Here was someone, whose name, character and lust for life will be with me now for the rest of my life, and you know what? I like the idea. I was off to be presented with a cheque for £1000 on behalf of Thrombosis UK. Tomo’s life never finished, his memory is quite literally raising much needed funds so everyone at Thrombosis UK can continue with the necessary work of Research, Awareness and Care.

So as a Trustee of Thrombosis UK, and on behalf of everyone that will benefit from this very generous donation, I send a heart felt salute of thanks to Tomo’s family, Pat, Lee and Helen. To Kiran who helped organise the event, to Berkhamsted FC for hosting the event and to everyone who supported the charity football match ……. Thank You …..!!

 

VTE Champion campaign at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust @LG_NHS

“It is estimated that every 6 seconds a person dies
 from VTE globally, also 1 in 4 deaths are Thrombosis related”

(This sentence takes 6 seconds to read, in that time another life is lost to VTE (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism) it is as simple as that.

As a Trustee of Thrombosis UK, I had been asked to attend Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. The Trust has initiated an internal campaign called “VTE Champion”. The nurse behind the campaign, Julie Bridges had herself lost a parent to Thrombosis in the 1960’s. The campaign is based within each ward at the Trust, selected nurses and Health Care Assistants are tasked with championing the awareness of Thrombosis amongst their peers and colleagues. With bespoke and focused training the nurses and HCA’s will be the “go to” people on their individual wards and will bring a wealth of awareness, care and treatment to patients who are suffering with a DVT, Pulmonary Embolism.

So it was talk time ……

I had taken with me some of the many things that keep me ticking over. My injections, sharp bucket, INR self-testing equipment and various medications. I laid these out on the table. I talked about my “journey” and how I’d ended up stood there in front of them. The good times, the bad times and the amazingly dark times. The Kübler-Ross model (5 stages of grief)

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Were discussed at length, along with the effect the “journey” had on a wider circle (my wife, family, friends). The result of my survival has been an enormous strain on those that I hold so dear, trying to explain to the nurses and HCA’s that at times I felt like the lucky one, purely and simply because I hadn’t had to see what was happening to someone I loved in the way that they had.

I then went to the bundle of medical goodies on the table. “With the NHS at breaking point financially, I pointed out just how vital their work as VTE Champions will be.

Ignore and don’t diagnose a DVT:

  • Warfarin for life £65,000
  • Pain medication £85,000
  • Injections £220,000
  • INR testing £195,000
  • Prescriptions £56,000

or

Awareness and diagnose a DVT:

  • D-dimer test £3.50
  • 6 months warfarin £60.00

Not only will the VTE Champions save lives, but save vital finances that will stay within the NHS.

It’s amazing just how fast an hour goes by, the interaction and interest shown by all those who had attended was superb. The questions were insightful and one’s that I know need to be asked, as without the access to real life information all the amazing nurses and HCA’s would be lead by an idea that is sterile and without empathy and real understanding.

Surviving such a condition is only the start of things. The nurses and HCA’s at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust are in daily contact with the patients, their loved ones, friends and colleagues. The relationship between the nursing staff and HCA’s and their patients is crucial and one of the most vital contributions to recovery.

When I left the ICU at Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust, I had a short stay on one of the wards. I had left a secure, safe and trusted environment, where the nursing staff knew me, my condition, my history, and care was given in a professional and caring way. The first time out of the ICU, the nurse who was handing over said “This is Mr Westerman, came in query of Shortness of Breath.”

All the sense of safety, care and trust had vanished in one sentence. Query Shortness of Breath, should have been “resuscitated 3 times on the way to hospital and in the ICU”, the shortness of breath, I guess was technically correct, as I wasn’t breathing….!!

This short, personal and real event, showed the nurses and HCA’s at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, the impact that they have on a patients care, and ultimately their recovery (physical and psychological).

The “VTE Champion” nurses and HCA lead campaign is a wonderful initiative. It will save lives, it will improve patient care, and it will more than likely save money.

I was extremely proud to have represented Thrombosis UK and to have seen first hand exactly what steps Julie Bridges and her team of VTE Champions are taking to help their patients, colleagues and peers in understanding and recognising the signs, symptoms and effect of VTE (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism) throughout the Trust.

Such a simple idea, maybe your hospital should start their own “VTE Champion” campaign.

Do you know the signs of a DVT. Pulmonary Embolism? Find out HERE

http://www.thrombosisuk.org

http://www.charityoars.org