When Martin and Leanne Watts were told their son had a heart defect their world was turned upside down – only to be told a year later, his baby brother had CHD too.

Eight years on, both boys have had open heart surgery and the whole family want to say thank you to the people who saved Harley and Joey’s lives…

Mum, Leanne tells us all about what inspired her family to fundraise for CHSF…

In 2012 our lives were turned upside down when we were told our little boy, Harley, had SupraValvar Aortic Stenosis and pulmonary branches stenosis. The severity of the condition was incredibly high, and the future looked bleak. There were no options to us back then and we were told nothing could be done.


Then in 2013 Joey entered our lives. This was a time we should have been overjoyed, but yet again came the unbearable pain. Our little boy also had the same condition as his brother!


We were advised both boys were at risk of sudden death and probably wouldn’t live to be three years old.


As you can imagine, the pain we felt as a family was unbearable, but we never let that stop us. The boys were bought up with their other siblings doing what children of their age did – with limitations obviously.


Fast forward to 2018, we were told Joey needed Surgery in the very near future. The chance of his survival was 1 in 10 due to the huge risk of anaesthetic but without the interventionalists and surgeons trying, our little boy’s life was hanging by a thread.

Both Harley and Joey had open heart surgery at Leeds

Harley and Joey with their heart surgeon Mr Osama Jaber at the opening of the Hybrid Theatre Dec 2019

CHSF helped to fund the new Hybrid Theatre at Leeds Children’s Hospital

In May 2019 Joey underwent his surgery and it was a great success because of the new Hybrid Theatre at Leeds Children’s Hospital, everything being under one roof and of course all the amazing staff in PICU and on Ward L51. Our boy’s future looked brighter.


Without the amazing Hybrid Theatre, this surgery wouldn’t have been possible and was only because of the wonderful work that Children’s Heart Surgery Fund did to make the theatre a reality.

Eight months later, Harley was to have the same surgery, with the same chances of survival – and he too made a fantastic recovery.


The support we received from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund was phenomenal. Not only did the theatre that they raised money for save our boys lives but they also made sure we had accommodation to stay in during our stays in hospital, taking away took away financial pressures. They provided both boys with a Katie Bear teddy, medal and certificate – and I believe this aided their recovery. We will forever be indebted to Children’s Heart Surgery Fund for the amazing work they do!


This was when me and Fiona Harper decided we would plan a Halloween Spooky Sponsored Walk to try and raise some money for a great cause so close to our hearts – and we asked our football community to get involved and help us in our plight.

Even Katie Bear got spooky for the Halloween walk!

Children in football team bubbles joined in with the spooky walk!

Martin Watts who runs Tickton Pumas (Harley & Joey’s dad) and Lee Jenkinson were keen to get involved, along with James Leebetter who runs Tickton Hurricanes (Fiona’s Partner). They asked their team members if they would participate and the response was fantastic!


We ran a prize for best fancy dress costume too which made the day a little more fun. Emily Blake who helps run the admin page for the Pumas was also extremely keen to help.

The Halloween walk was fantastic, and a great success and we raised a super amount of money for CHSF.


I’m so grateful to everyone who participated and sponsored us that day as we can now give a little back to help others – just like Children’s Heart Surgery Fund helped us ❤

And we are so grateful to the Watts Family, all who took part on the day and of course all who donated to the Halloween walk.

You all raised an amazing total of £2033 – an incredible amount of money to help the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, our heart warriors and their families #BecauseofYou

There’s a Harley and a Joey under there somewhere!!