To publicly recognise and celebrate those excellent services and the staff, volunteers and fundraisers who support them South Tees trust holds an annual Star Awards which, this year, were held at the Middlesbrough Hotel.
The Fat Lads on Bikes and Phat Lasses in Trainers came runners up in the fundraising category, a massive achievement for a charity who had been running for less than a year.
The team were nominated by Bev Rodgers a Senior Sister on Ward 14, her nomination is as follows:-
#itsallaboutward14 On 6 August 2014 I received a phone call from Neal Bullock which was to be fundamental in enhancing patient experience on Ward 14.
Neal explained that his Aunty Linda Auckland had been a patient on Ward 14 at James Cook University Hospital. “Aunty Linda was diagnosed with Breast Cancer for the second time in three years; our lives were shattered. There were many agonising months of gruelling treatment and at times, the prognosis didn’t look too good. Linda was admitted to Ward 14; where the love and care in the hearts of the specialist team was immeasurable. As a family we would like to recognise the work that these amazing individuals undertake each day not only for the patients in their care, but for the families affected by this horrific illness and do some fund raising for the ward”.
There was nothing unusual about our telephone call as the ward regularly benefit from the fund raising events of some amazing individuals However 11 months later this fund raising has grown into something well beyond the expectations of all involved. Neal explained that he wanted to do the coast to coast bike ride with Linda’s son Glen Auckland. I don’t think Glen’s response to this arduous journey was quite what Neal had in mind but Neal being the persuasive sort of guy he is said “how hard can it be? it will just be a couple of fat lads on a bike”. Paul Sykes a friend of Neal and Glen got on board and two became three. The Fat Lads on Bikes was born.
The Coast to Coast was planned but it didn’t stop there as more and more fund raising ideas and events were planned. As I have got to know Neal I am inspired by his enthusiasm, selflessness and true commitment to his cause. Neal believed there was something missing as there was no female representation. Neal approached Jane Harvey of 'Catherine's Any1Can run group' based in Guisborough. Jane shares Neal’s values and the PHAT (Pretty, Hot And Tempting) Lasses in Trainers joined forces with The Fat Lads. Their collective hash tag #itsallaboutward14. The opening sentence on the web site pretty much sums up what these amazing people are about; It is all about Ward 14. About those admitted. About those dedicated to offering specialist care and support. About those family members that want the very best for their loved ones. It’s about being able to make a difference.
There are now 107 members with new members coming on board all the time. Members can be spotted around the region in their distinctive red and white T Shirts. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. From their web site www.fatladsonbikes.com you can sponsor them for any of the forthcoming events, purchase their clothing range and keep up to date with their plans.
Since February 2015 the following events have been organised to raise funds for Ward 14;
2015 Launch night at The Eston Labour Club Whitby to Middlesbrough bike ride. 40 riders accepted the 40-mile challenge including Ali Brownlee from BBC Tees and Consultant Dr Nick Wadd who represented Ward 14. Charirty Golf Day at Wilton Golf Club
And as if that wasn’t enough the following events are planned for this year;
Muffin top Day- August 2015. Coffee mornings planned throughout the region including one on Ward 14. This is expected to be an annual event. Coast to Coast bike ride- August 2015. 16 riders are taking part but there are many other people involved in supporting the event in a practical way or by way of fund raising. Great North Run- September 2015. 29 runners are competing to raise funds for the ward. Our own Jane Rayner (Health Care Assistant) will represent the ward in the race. And to finish off the year a glittering Black Tie Ball at Redworth Hall where The Fat Lads and PHAT Lasses will hand over their fundraising total.
But The Fat Lads on Bikes and PHAT Lasses in Trainers are about so much more than raising funds. Working with partnership agencies they are raising awareness regarding the early detection of cancer and in particular breast and testicular cancer, they inspire others to get involved in fund raising for local causes and get fit at the same time. Always looking for ways to increase membership and revenue streams Neal says “this has now become such a huge part of me there will never be a time when I can give it up. I’m in this for the long haul; it’s a marathon for me not a sprint”. Funds raised will be used to enhance patient experience on Ward 14 including subscriptions to provide free bedside TV, holistic therapies for patients and families, hairdressing/ beauty service and a future plan to provide a conservatory for the existing Family Suite.
I am constantly impressed by Neal, Jane and members as each event becomes bigger and better than the last. On behalf of the patients, their families and the staff of Ward 14 I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for making a difference.