Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

Support group is getting to the heart of the matter

Suffering a heart attack can be a devastating experience and one that affects an estimated 111,000 people each year in England alone.

The fear of having a second attack can often mean the end to an active lifestyle, but thanks to one Shrewsbury heart support group, many are now realising that there is indeed, ‘a life after’.

sd3889908cickerslp02.jpgFrom left, Geoff Kelsell, Brenda Pitchford, Roger Hanson, Brenda Adams and Frank Coley at a recent charity bowls match.

Copthorne Cickers United – a name derived from the Coronary Care Unit – is a Shrewsbury-based heart support group that aims to help restore confidence in individuals who have suffered from heart related problems.

The group, which is made up of ex-coronary care patients, meets once a month to take part in various activities ranging from musical evenings to coach trips around the country.

Dave Williams, membership secretary for the ‘Cickers’, is hoping to raise awareness for the group, which welcomes anyone who has suffered from a heart related problem.

‘Wake-up call’

He said: “The main thing we encourage here is to enjoy life. We’ve all had that wake-up call, I’ve had eleven years that I shouldn’t have had and by joining the Cickers it’s made me realise that there is in fact life after.

“I had my heart attack in 1999 and had to have a heart bypass, I then joined the group in 2000 after the nurses on the Coronary Care Unit encouraged me to do so. Since then I haven’t looked back as I’ve met so many good friends and have had some really good times.”

Since forming in 1992, the Cickers have raised almost £33,000 for the coronary care ward at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The group meet at Lord Hill Hotel, in Abbey Forgate, on the third Thursday of every month where they have a varied programme of entertainment including; guest speakers, quizzes and comedy evenings.

On September 15, the group will host its annual harvest festival, when members hope to raise more money for the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital through an auction event. Mr Williams said: “This year we will be having an auctioneer coming over from Oswestry and we are hoping to raise quite a bit of money for the CCU. In the past we have raised around £500 from these events.

“The money we raise is then spent on equipment for the hospital, this year we have already spent £2,000 on a new heart monitor for the CCU.”

Copthorne Cickers United formed in 1992 when a number of coronary patients wished to remain in contact after spending time together in hospital. It was suggested by a ward sister to form a support group, and the Cickers were born.

Since then the group has gone from strength to strength and is now a registered charity with over 1,000 members, although Mr Williams admits that he is not sure just how many of them are still around.

He added: “As it costs £1 for life membership, we don’t actually know how many are still living, that said, we still get a very good turnout at our events.

“Anyone who has had a heart related problem is able to join and you are also welcome to bring one extra person along.

“The main thing here is to realise that there is life after a heart attack, we have all been through it, and even I live an active life now.”

For those wishing to join the Copthorne Cickers United, contact Dave Williams on 01743 357175 or visit one of groups monthly meetings on the third Thursday of every month, at the Lord Hill Hotel, at 8pm.

by Luke Powell