Marathon mission to help hospital

December 30 2016

A SCHOOLBOY who was born with a rare heart condition has made a brilliant start to 2017 - he's raised more than £2,000 to help other poorly children.

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A SCHOOLBOY who was born with a rare heart condition has made a brilliant start to 2017 - he's raised more than £2,000 to help other poorly children.

Charlie Andrews-Brown has hypo-plastic left heart syndrome which means he only has half a working heart.

The 11-year-old, a Year 7 student at King's Oak Academy, has endured six operations including three open heart surgeries and  tasks most youngsters take for granted, like running and playing, cause him to become breathless, making everyday life very difficult.

But despite this, Charlie has completed half a marathon in five stages to raise money for Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal.

The day after Charlie was born he was transferred from St Michael's Hospital in Bristol by flashing ambulance to Birmingham Children's Hospital where he stayed for six weeks.

It was to be the first of many hospital visits for Charlie but with the dedicated support of his family and friends he has learnt not to feel sorry for himself but to think of others.

This was to be the motivating factor when Charlie decided to raise money for the cardiac unit at Bristol Children's Hospital.

Mum Karen Thomas said: "Charlie has has lots of operations and three major heart surgeries which have all been carried out at Birmingham and Bristol's children's hospitals.

"He's doing really well but he finds life a bit difficult and struggles with every day activities. He can run around but gets very tired and breathless and also gets blurred vision and migraines.

"Myself and Charlie's dad Michael sat down with Charlie and told him how lucky he is as he is in good health considering the condition he has. A lot of children with his condition don't leave hospital or don't even make it.

"We discussed doing something which would be rewarding for him and he suggested raising money for charity. He decided he wanted to raise it for Ward 32, a cardiac ward at Bristol Children's Hospital where he had an operation last year."

Charlie, from Downend, started his mission on November 18 and every weekend since he has walked a few miles until surpassing his target by reaching just over 16 miles on December 17 when he tackled Ashton Court before stopping off at The Ashton pub with friends and family to celebrate.

"Charlie couldn't do much more than a few miles at a time because he gets really tired. One time he struggled to do a mile but another time, when the weather was more mild, he managed to walk up Crook Peak in the Mendips and back again."

Just before Christmas Charlie and his family, including brother Ollie, presented a cheque to Ward 32. They were armed with selection boxes and went around chatting to the young patients.

"Charlie felt that it was coming up to Christmas and he thought it would be nice to visit the children," said Karen, a part-time nursery assistant.

"It's amazing what Charlie has achieved. Most of the time he just wants to play on his computer but he's actually wanted to get up and out and do this to help other people.

"We've had complete strangers give us money and as a family we have been totally blown away by people's generosity. That's has been the biggest thrill for Charlie - to know that people are so kind and that there is good in the world."