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A bond of friendship sees two incredible friends taking on the 3 Peak Challenge to support their best friend following open heart surgery.

The bond of friendship is based on trust, honesty and sacrifice, as grand as love and as precious as family ties. A bond that makes us realise that in life our friends are by our side, they complete us. And this story is no different!

Steve Reader and Richard Ball jumped at the chance to take on the 3 Peaks Challenge to help support their close friend Greg, in his rehabilitation following open heart surgery. They wanted to raise funds for Heartbeat who are supporting the Wessex Cardiac Unit at the University Hospital Southampton, who are helping cardiac patients and their relatives in the Wessex region and beyond.

On the 6th April, Steve and Richard kitted up and prepared to brave the 3 peaks challenge. Finding it pretty tough due to some very steep climbs, and muddy and slippery conditions throughout, both guys managed to completed the challenge with a smile on their face.

Only setting a small target of £500 to go towards the pioneering projects that Heartbeat fundraising against, Steve and Richard were ecstatic once reaching the last top of the last peak to find out that they had smashed their target and raised an extraordinary £1,030.81 plus Gift Aid of £246.25.

We would like to say a massive thank you to Steve and Richard for their incredible efforts on taking on the 3 Peaks Challenge and we hope that Greg is recovering well.

Greg's story is below....

At a routine GP appointment in February last year, it was suggested by my doctor that I may have an undiagnosed heart condition, which came as a bit of a shock, especially as I am reasonably fit 63-year-old who does plenty of walking and plays golf two or three times a week, with no obvious health issues.

The following week I had an ECG and an ultrasound which confirmed that I did indeed have an issue, a prolapsed mitral valve, which was causing me to have some problems with my breathing, other than that I had no outward symptoms, so it was very lucky that the Doctor I saw picked it up.

After several other tests through the summer, including a chest x-ray, an angiogram, treadmill test and further ECG’s the hospital had enough information to confirm that I had a significant leak in the valve and needed open heart surgery to fix or replace it.

The consultant surgeon told me that without the surgery I would probably have a heart attack or stroke due to the pressure it was putting on my heart.

In October I was given a provisional date for surgery and following pre assessment checks this was confirmed as mid-November, frustratingly the operation was cancelled twice due to lack of available beds in ICU but was finally admitted on November 19th for surgery on November 20th.

Despite some apprehension and concerns on my part the operation went well and the team successfully repaired the faulty valve, after two days in ICU and two on a high dependency ward I was moved to a normal ward for recovery and after 16 days in hospital I was discharged to home.

I have had a couple of follow up visits at the hospital and with my GP, along with contact with the rehabilitation team and other than a medication check which is planned for March, I have been signed off by the hospital and will be back on the golf course at the beginning of April, which is fantastic.

Throughout the whole process, all of the staff I have met and had dealings with at Southampton General Hospital have been amazing, the Consultant, doctors, nurses, support staff and the rehab team have all been brilliant, providing great support in what was a difficult personal time for me and my family. I cannot fault the professional approach and empathy shown to me throughout, for which I will be forever grateful.

Heartbeat do a fantastic job providing quality care for cardiac patients and their families in the Wessex area and the funds they raise have a big impact on supporting all aspects of those people affected by cardiac issues.

Greg Bunnage

Many thanks to, without whose support we wouldn't be able to do this event.

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