Be A Good Sport: Andy’s Motivation Behind His Incredible Fundraising

Be A Good Sport is back for 2022 and we have a host of events to suit every taste. Team up and make a difference for our family of NHS hospitals in Greater Manchester. You can choose to support our whole hospital family, or any one of our individual hospitals.

You can also choose from a range of events – whether you prefer cycling or running, whether you are a beginner or a veteran, young or old, we have something for everyone. What will your 2022 challenge be?

Andy Smith, aged 45 from Bingley, has been lacing up his running shoes to raise money for Wythenshawe Hospital….

I’ve done a couple of events for the Charity now, including the Great North Run, London Marathon, the Virtual London Marathon and a few 10Ks. I always really enjoy running for the Charity and meeting the other fundraisers – we all have our own reasons for doing it and hearing their stories and making friends with them has been part of why I love doing these events. I’m hoping to do the London Marathon again this year if I’m well enough as I currently have a bit of an ankle injury.

It’s hard when you keep doing marathons to ask the same people for sponsorship, so as well as the sporting challenges I’ve also held some fundraising balls. My fundraising is in memory of my wife Sharon, so I always hold the balls around her birthday – Valentines Day. The Charity can always help you come up with ideas and they’re really supportive.

When I first started fundraising back in 2019 our money went to Wyhenshawe’s ECMO unit, as that’s where Sharon was treated. But as the years have gone on I’ve seen for myself all the wonderful things the Charity has done for Wythenshawe, and also the other hospitals in the Manchester Foundation Trust family. So now I’m not bothered where my money is spent, because I know it’s going somewhere where it’ll really make a difference.

Andy with wife Sharon and their children Amelia and Lewis

I first became involved with supporting the Charity in 2019, shortly after my wife passed away. The nurses who looked after her when she was at Wythenshawe were true angels – not just looking after Sharon, but the family when we visited as well, including my daughter Amelia, who is now 19 and my son Lewis, who is now 17. Nothing was too much and they did whatever they could to help us.

Sharon first became poorly in March 2018. She was feeling really run down and ill for about a week but she was such a stubbonrn Yorkshire lass she didn’t want a fuss. Eventually I persuaded her to see her GP, who immediately rang an ambulance for her. They told us Sharon needed to be treated on the ECMO unit. This stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and it’s a machine which helps a patients’ heart and lung function.  Currently there are only 5 ECMO adult units in the country – the nearest being 55 miles away at Wythenshawe Hospital, so she was sent straight there.

We didn’t have a diagnosis for Sharon at this point. We just knew her lungs weren’t working properly and the ECMO machine would help her lung function. A few days after arriving at Wythenshawe it was clear her lungs, liver and kidney were all starting to fail and she was suffering from pneumonia. The doctors and nurses told me I had to prepare for the worst.

It was hard telling Amelia and Lewis. How do you tell your kids they’re going to lose their mum today? We prepared to say our goodbyes, but then throughout the day she started to stabilise.

Slowly Sharon started to make improvements but remained in a coma to help her body recover. With all the tubes and machinery around her, there was barely room for me to pull up a chair next to her bed. But I managed to squeeze in enough to hold her hand.

On 21st April 2018 she came off the ECMO. She was well enough to breathe on a ventilator – she still wasn’t breathing for herself, but it was a massive improvement. Over the next two or three weeks she was weaned off the ventilator too and they slowly got her breathing by herself again.

Andy with Senior Events Manager Viv Williamson

Sadly Sharon’s circulation had been so poor, her feet had become swollen and purple and the decision was made to amputate her legs just below the knees. After the operation, Sharon and I were able to spend some time outside in the hospital gardens for our wedding anniversary. It was really lovely to sit outside and chat. We were really positive and we knew that whatever happened we’d be okay.

Unfortunately, just a few days after that Sharon’s condition once again deteriorated and she struggled to breathe again. Pneumonia and sepsis took over her body and I knew at that point she wasn’t going to make it.  She’d been through so much and she wasn’t strong enough to put up a second fight.

We lost her in the early hours on 27th June 2018. I was right by her side holding her hand.

I’ve heard that Covid has meant lots of patients have been using the ECMO unit so it’s really hitting home for even more families how important and amazing the team is. It’s also nice to think that some of the money we’ve raised is helping those families.

To date we’ve raised £19,480.83. I’m so proud we’ve been able to raise that much and I’m definitely not stopping yet. I’m so grateful to everyone at Wythenshawe and the Charity team for being there for our family. I’d encourage anyone to sign up and Be A Good Sport – every penny and pound makes a difference!

  • Has Andy’s story inspired you? Check out our Events Page to see what challenges we have this year!