Here we are, in September already and with it comes an amazing new Fundraiser of the Month – Sarah Hardy! Sarah, inspired by Heart Warrior Charlotte, has consistently gone above and beyond for our charity and very much deserves this accolade!

Sarah tells us a bit about her family’s story and who and what inspires her to fundraise for CHSF…

Our daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect (ASD) just after her first birthday in 2012. We first found out she had a problem when she was admitted to hospital with a bug.

A young doctor was doing her observations during the night and heard a heart murmur. We were referred to see the paediatrician, who then referred us to Leeds.

We first met Dr Dom at Grimsby hospital who brought our world crashing down as we knew it. He was great with us and explained everything and what would happen in a way we could understand. We still have the diagram of Charlotte’s heart that he drew for us.

He told us because of the size of her ASD she would need operating on before she was two. Dr Dom explained that they would normally like to wait until a child was older to operate.

Unfortunately, the powers that be decided to close the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit just as Charlotte was due her surgery. This obviously increased the anxiety and stress levels of the whole situation. Luckily Children’s Heart Surgery Fund ran the Save Our Surgery (SOS) campaign to get the unit reopened for all the families in our region which was such a relief. A huge thank you to CEO Sharon and the team behind her!

Eventually Charlotte had her surgery in 2013 by our hero Mr Osama Jaber and his team. Everyone was so helpful and caring, from the doctors, nurses, porters and domestic staff. Everyone’s role is so important to the unit.

While on the unit we noticed a lot of things had been bought by Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. PICU had just been refurbished and a lot of the things had been funded by CHSF including the murals and what I called the ‘beepy machines’. The beeps became quite comforting – the alarms not so much.

We were provided with a room in The Stables while Charlotte was on PICU. It was great to be nearby if we were needed. We were so far away from home and family.

Once Charlotte started to recover and was back on the heart ward, she loved walking to see the fish and playing in the playroom – all things supported by CHSF!

We decided to use Charlotte’s first Heart Day to have a party. We wanted to thank our family and friends for all their support whilst we were in hospital with Charlotte.

We didn’t want to make it a fundraiser as such but asked our friends if they would throw their pennies into a jar so we could make a donation to CHSF in Charlotte’s name.

We wanted to find a way to thank everyone at the unit for the excellent care we received. This somehow snowballed and Charlotte’s ‘Every Penny Counts’ Heart Day has become an annual event in our family calendar.

We have also run raffles, bake sales and had donations from the company I work for. Since 2014 Charlotte has raised £8259.36 to help families just like ours.

We asked Sarah if there was any advice she would give to anyone thinking of fundraising for CHSF…

Make full use of Lisa and the CHSF team. They have a wealth of knowledge between them to make the most of your fundraising. They can also help with marketing merchandise like posters, banners and leaflets to help promote your event.

Also, if family and friends offer any help, accept it graciously! It’s all about the teamwork!

No one would choose to go on this journey, but we have met people that have become like family and the team at Children’s Heart Surgery Fund is no exception. They are always there to support you and nothing is ever too much trouble.