A hearty “Thank you” to Matt Lucas @RealMattLucas

The wonderful (at times) thing about Twitter is the way in which people in high profile situations, can and often are accessible, even to two wooden oars….!

The @charityoars had been in contact with Matt for a short while, just the right amount of time to keep things professional and not look like a stalker…! Matt’s schedule was (and rightly so) hectic. America, UK, filming … The chap probably at times had trouble working out which continent he was on.

If you look at the projects Matt has been involved in since 2015, it’s hardly surprising it was proving tricky to arrange for the Charity Oars to meet Matt; Pompidou, The Labyrinth, Alice through the looking glass, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Doctor Who, to name a few projects.

Well, we finally found a tiny break in Matt’s schedule, and with the very kind and professional help from his assistant (Emily) we travelled down to have the Charity Oars meet Matt.

To have the support of such a respected actor is a wonderful thing. When we started the Charity Oars (2014) we never knew just how amazing the support would be. The more people we meet, talk to, quite literally can save a life.

Awareness of the signs of a DVT is crucial:

  • Unexplained pain can be the only symptom
  • Swelling, including the ankle and foot
  • Redness or noticeable discoloration
  • Warmth

So, from little old me and the Charity Oars, a huge thank you to Matt for taking the time to sign the Charity Oars and for helping Thrombosis UK to continue their vital work.




So who has signed the Charity Oars so far …?

Just had a great question from a follower of @charityoars and it was this:

“Who has signed the Charity Oars so far?” In an ideal world we would have all the images on our web-site, alas we’re still waiting for the site to be completed. We were (are) a CSR project, but we still remain optimistic that soon under the “Gallery” tag will be all those wonderful people who have signed. But for now here’s a list …

Dame Tanni Grey Thompson @Tanni_GT   Clare Balding @clarebalding   Fern Britton @Fern_Britton   Boris Johnson @MayorofLondon    Stephen Merchant @StephenMerchant   Steve Coogan    Billy Connolly   Allan Lamb @AllanLamb294  Dean Headley @deanheadley585   Simon Jones @si610   Martin Bayfield  @MartinBayfield  Austin Healey  @IamAustinHealey   Craig Doyle  Dr Dawn harper @DrDawnHarper   Dr James Logan  @Dr_JamesLogan  Zoe Lee @Zoe_S_Lee   Helen Glover @Helenglovergb   Jonny Walton  @JflWalton   Andrew Triggs Hodge  @andrewthodge   George Nash  @gorgnash   Will Satch  @WilliamSatch    James Pritchard  @JPritchard_21   Brenda Burke  @Pikey128   Harry Peck   Sacha HArding  @PTSachaHarding  Jeremy Sallis @jeremysallis

Who we’re planning to meet in 2015:

Jordanne Whiley @jordannejoyce92   Hannah Cockroft  @HCDream2012   Matthew Pinsent  @matthewcpinsent   Angela Rippon   Serena Williams @serenawilliams

Who would you like to see sign the Charity Oars? The campaign is solely about raising awareness of Thrombosis (DVT’s and Pulmonary Embolisms) every penny, and I quite literally mean “EVERY PENNY” will be donated to Lifeblood (the thrombosis charity


)Simon JonesSteve Coogan July 2014Fern Britton 2Andrew Triggs Hodge MBE 03Helen Glover 02Austin HealeyCraig Doyle 2Dr Dawn Harper Oct 2014Dr James LoganJeremy Sallis BBC CambsMartin BayfieldStephen MerchantTanni Grey Thompson smallIMG_2967Jonny Wilson 01moiBoris Johnson October 2014Steve Coogan. The auction will take place on World Thrombosis Day 2015 (13th October 2015) would you like to be involved?


Westers mad cycle with @Fern_Britton – @philvickerytv better make great sandwiches..! lol

On the 12th April 2011 I walked into our en-suite, turned round and said “I don’t think I feel too well..!” That’s all I remember. I collapsed dead onto the floor.

I awoke in the resuscitation unit of the local hospital and for the next 2 weeks I laid motionless in the ICU, by my side was the machine that goes “ping..!” and the lovely Ellisa. We were due to be married on the 21st April, but that was now not a possibility.

I had suffered a massive Pulmonary Embolism. The huge clot had formed in my right leg, caused by a trauma whilst playing tennis in March 2011. I had no knowledge of DVT’s apart from thinking “you get them by flying a lot.” The DVT had formed and then travelled through my deep veins, eventually filling my heart and lungs up with a massive pulmonary embolism.

Should I have known the symptoms or been aware of the signs of such a life threatening condition? Hindsight now says yes..! But in April 2011 I had no idea of the symptoms or signs.

During 2013 I had started rehabilitation and I had planned to raise funds for and awareness of Lifeblood (the thrombosis charity), with a goal of completing a half marathon on a gym cross trainer. Training was proceeding well, right up to the 16th August 2013, when Ellisa (now my wife) and I were in a serious RTC, caused by a driver not paying attention to the road ahead (in which we had broken down). The seriousness of my condition raised its’ head, as, since April 2011 I am on lifelong medication which affects the bloods ability to clot, so with my right leg now completely out of action the paramedics fought to control the bleeding.

In 2014 I started Charity Oars; it was part therapy and part fund raising. Again, all in the name of raising awareness of Thrombosis (DVT’s and Pulmonary Embolisms) and raising funds for Lifeblood. In all honesty I never expected it to become such a big thing, but the response so far has been amazing. We’ve met and talked to many sporting stars, television and film stars, as well as popular public figures. The Charity Oars have met Dame Tami Grey-Thompson, Fern Britton, Clare Balding, Helen Glover, Dr Dawn Harper, Dean Headley, Allan Lamb, Simon Jones, Billy Connolly, Stephen Merchant, Steve Coogan, Boris Johnson and many more.

The most fascinating impact though is direct with the public. As I travel around the country with the Charity Oars, I’m frequently approached by members of the public, more than often with a quizzical look upon their faces wondering “why is this 6’ chap on the Piccadilly Line with a pair of 8’ oars? Or “why is that chap carrying a pair of oars down the High Street?” I like being asked “why?” as it enables me to talk about Thrombosis to a complete stranger in a way that is open and free for discussion. Being able to mention some of the stars who have helped the Charity Oars campaign so far enables everyone to relate to the campaign, and it’s fascinating as to the stories that are out there concerning loved ones, family and friends who have been affected by thrombosis. My favourite story is still the old lady (must have been in her 90’s) who said; “We all know it was a blood clot that killed our poor mum, of course the bomb that hit the house dropped by the Luftwaffe didn’t help, but it was the blood clot that killed her…!”

So I’ve made it to 2015, and I (remarkably) still remain optimistic. This year I have 2 key campaigns taking place. Firstly World Thrombosis Day on the 13th October 2015. This is when we will be auctioning off the Charity Oars (along with other sporting memorabilia). Every penny raised goes directly to Lifeblood (the thrombosis charity), the entire campaign is funded by me personally. The other key campaign this year is a “jolly downhill cycle ride” from John O’Groats to Lands End in May 2015. The cycle ride is the #challenge57 and I’m proud to be supporting Fern Britton and the Genesis Research Trust as the key charity. Of course, if I’m able to raise awareness of Thrombosis along the way then it’s a win win…!

The Genesis Research Trust is a very personal cause for me and one that I am so proud to support.

Hand on my heart (yes it’s still there and beats occasionally) after the events of 2011 for me to be contemplating such an event as the #challenge57 would have been unthinkable a short while ago, and I’m pretty sure one or two of my consultants would have frowned upon such an adventure. But if I am able to complete such a challenge after everything my body and mind has been through in the past 4 years, I hope it acts as a small light of hope and comfort for those who have suffered or sadly lost a loved one to Thrombosis.

So how exactly did I get talked into the #challenge57 campaign I hear you ask?

Well …. As I sat in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, having just introduced the Charity Oars to Billy Connolly, my trusty phone beeped. A message from Fern Britton appeared in my timeline. “Care to cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End in May?” As I sat there, pondering, enjoying a glass of wine (purely medicinal) I made the decision then and there to support Fern and the Genesis Research Trust. After a few messages back and forth, a deal was agreed; it’s all downhill (apparently) and Phil Vickery will provide the sandwiches.

So in May this year I will be cycling 1000 miles and my target is to raise over £7000 to help with the research into miscarriages and the continuing work of the Genesis Research Trust.

Please support my rather foolhardy challenge, if nothing else it’s certainly going to be an interesting and amusing adventure …!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CharityOarsCycleChallenge

Just Giving:  www.justgiving.com/westerscycle

Text: OARS78 to 70070

Twitter:  @charityoars

Blog: www.charityoars.wordpress.com

Whose signed (up to 6th January 2015):

Stephen Merchant, Jeremey Sallis, Boris Johnson, Allan Lamb, Brendan Burke, Harry Peck, Sacha Harding, Dean Headley, Simon Jones, Billy Connolly, Steve Coogan, Clare Balding, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Martin Bayfield, Austin Healey, Craig Doyle, James Pritcahrd, Fern Britton, Dr Dawn Harper, Zoe Lee, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Helen Glover, Dr James Logan, Johny Walton, George Nash and Will Satch.

Who will be signing in 2015:

Matthew Pinsent, Amy Williams, Jordanne Whiley,Hannah Cockroft, Jade Jones, Dr Michele Ross

Who would you like to sign the Charity Oars in 2015?

Thank you for your continued support


@bbccambs @jeremeysallis BBC Radio Interview for World Thrombosis Day

Well my dulcet tones hit the airwaves again yesterday when the Charity Oars popped into the BBC Cambridgeshire studios to be interviewed by Jeremy Sallis. It’s always an interesting experience being interviewed live and one that I rather bizarrely like. Now for those of you who have followed these news stories and those of you that know me, know that ordinarily being the centre of attention is something I rather like, however, since 2011 I have tended to keep myself out of the limelight more. Of course, since our jolly run-in with the chap and his Mercedes is 2013 apart from keeping myself even more in the background, I have (so I’ve recently found out) got a “problem” with my cognitive memory skills (it’s amazing the damage having a Mercedes running over your head does to your brain), well suffice to say my memory isn’t what it used to be, neither are my linguistic and communicative skills, so to be interviewed live on the BBC, whilst trying to remember the key messages was a “tad” daunting…!

But I cracked it ….!! (I’ve just listened to the broadcast and I didn’t sound too bad..!)

So please have a listen, there probably are a few faux pas but lets just put this down to nerves and a bad memory shall we ….!

Listen here (but please be gentle) I’m 1.08 in to the recording

A big thank you to Jeremy for his support in arranging the interview, and good luck with the Maasai Warriors on Monday…!!

@Fern_Britton from Red Tomatoes or Green Peppers to Charity Oars

Living out in the wilds of Cambridgeshire, it’s fair to say that our broadband is slightly “dubious” at times. Of course when John goes by in his tractor, or Mr Jones herds his sheep up the High Street we for some reason loose broadband and wifi…! (I really should try and find out why the sheep affect the broadband and wireless so much..!!)

Yesterday morning I could see that our Twitter account (@charityoars) had a few new messages, sadly we’re in the middle of the harvest season so tractors are a plenty. So as soon as we had broadband again I thought I would see who’d sent us the messages.

There in the message box was the name @Fern_Britton they’re always jolly to read and full of good cheer. Well this particular message set my day up rather well, (which for those that know what a grumpy chap I am prior to my caffeine intake will confirm)..!

There was Fern with a cheery smile, and grasped in both hands was one of the now rather infamous Charity Oars.

As we’ve watched Fern’s career develop from Tomatoes and Peppers, to working with the silver haired antipodean chap who goes by the name of Philip Schofield (or Gordon the Gophers’ straight guy as he’s also known, I believe) it’s been a pleasure for Fern now to have worked (albeit briefly) with a Charity Oar, not that I’d wish to put words into her mouth (libel lawyers are very tough these days..!) I’m pretty sure she would have said “I can’t wait to update Wikipedia with this great news of being photographed with a Charity Oar, and I’ve asked my lovely husband Phil Vickery if it’s OK to buy a rowing boat so the magic of being with one of the Charity Oars stays with me forever..!”

* Fern Britton did at no time say any of this, I’m putting it all down to artistic license..!

So from the Charity Oars, to the rather lovely and very generous Fern Britton we quite simply say “THANK YOU” for signing the Charity Oars…!

Fern Britton 2



Our thoughts are with @pamelastephenson & @Billy_Connolly

Our thoughts and best wishes are with actor and comedian Billy Connolly who suffered a life threatening blood clot after surgery, and also with Pamela Stephenson.

Comic Billy Connolly suffered a life-threatening blood clot that doctors failed to spot after he underwent surgery for prostate cancer, his wife has revealed. She told the Daily Mail: “I knew it was a clot but the doctors weren’t listening to me.”

Blood Clots (DVT’s, Pulmonary Embolisms) can show as other symptoms and their diagnosis can, at times be confused, however, it’s about time that the medical professionals, the NHS and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt @jeremy_hunt took the life threatening condition seriously. 

Charity Oars is a small charity who are trying to make some noise about blood clots and the devastating effect they have on our lives. More people die of blood clots every year than those who sadly die of Breast Cancer, Aids and RTC’s combined.

So if you can, please follow @charityoars on twitter or our Facebook page at Charity Oars and lets work together to raise awareness of the life threatening condition.

To read more about Billy Connolly and the response to Pamela Stephenson’s anguish, the full article (reproduced with kind permission of Talk Talk) can be found here Full article