Give Helen your support in Doncaster - in memory of her dad
The shock of losing her much-loved father just four weeks after a diagnosis of heart failure has spurred Helen Hammond to work tirelessly to support the work of the British Heart Foundation.
Her father, Martin Swift, lived in Cantley and was a retired businessman who ran an electrical store for over 30 years on Bank Street, in Mexborough.
Helen, 34, is his only child. Devastated by his death in March this year, she has channelled her grief in to a whole series of fund raising events and activities in aid of the BHF, and hopes to raise awareness of symptoms that can signal heart failure, so that people might seek medical help without delay.
She has set up a Facebook page, Yorkshire Lass Events, and has cabaret evenings, fun days, raffles, karaoke and quiz nights on the way.
Social coffee mornings are an incentive she has, and two cafes are signed up to host these every Monday.
Two further cafe hosts are needed for Monday slots, and can be anywhere in South Yorkshire.
Helen will be at every coffee morning to welcome all visitors warmly, and sends special invites to people who might come alone for some company, to anyone recently bereaved, or people who are new to a particular area and want to make friends.
“It’s a social support venture and I want to hold one every Monday in South Yorkshire”, explained Helen.
“I will run raffles and competitions for BHF but those are optional, there is no pressure to anyone to pay for tickets.
“I’d love to hear from any cafes willing to play host once a month.
“If my dad had made it home from hospital, this is the sort of thing that would have been useful to us.
“As a nation we really don’t talk much about how we are feeling. We must learn to do this and to reach out to others, it’s so important.”
Similarly, Helen is hosting pub quiz nights and would like any interested pubs to offer their premises.
She will take care of running the quiz, and people will pay to take part. There will be prizes and a raffle.
“I had to do all this after dad died. It feels so necessary and I know he would be proud of me,” she explained.
“I found it so hard to accept that just four-and-a-half weeks after dad was told he had heart failure and needed an operation, we lost him.
“He didn’t seem that ill.….just a bit puffed out.
“Dad was a colourful character. He loved to look the part and had hundreds of jackets and ties, and boots.
“We shared a love of karaoke and used to go regularly. He had a fantastic sense of humour, and was a real gentleman who would help anyone.
“I’m so grateful for the time we had but want to tell his story so that others might be warned of what can happen and not waste time in getting to the doctors.
“Dad’s operation was delayed because he suffered a stroke while in hospital. He was recovering well from that when his heart failure took hold.
“Thinking back, he did have symptoms, and if these had been recognised earlier he might have had the operation he needed and still be here with us.
“People should never be afraid of asking for a second opinion or pointing out different symptoms that may together indicate a heart problem.”
Latterly her father had suffered from Type 2 Diabetes, sleep apnea, fluid retention in his legs, shortness of breath and low oxygen levels, she said.
“All these might indicate a heart that isn’t functioning effectively and need investigating.”
Amid all the event planning, Helen also finds time to post latest information from the BHF on her website, and writes a blog on finding ways to cope with heartbreak.
A walking group is yet another initiative she is starting, with easy strolls at Lakeside in Doncaster first.
And she is seeking teams for a future It’s a Knockout event.
If enough interest, the event can take place in South Yorkshire, so again, anyone willing should get in touch with Helen as soon as possible.
Donations to the British Heart Foundation were made at Mr Swift’s funeral, using the charity’s Gift of Hope service.
“People don’t realise the tremendous amount of work the BHF does,2 said Helen.
“All the money I raise will go directly to them. Their work covers stroke, diabetes, vascular dementia and many more diseases that are linked to the heart.
“As a family, we do suffer from high cholestorol, but dad’s cholestorol level had been excellent for some time when he became ill.
“Another idea I have is to do sponsored ‘facing your fears’. People can be sponsored to handle a spider, or a snake, or do a sky dive .” Contact Helen at email@example.com, or message her via her facebook page.