Football fan’s Sheffield stadium challenge for brother with rare disease

10 September 2018

A football fan will walk from Stoke City to Sheffield Wednesday to raise money for the Chapeltown-based charity that supports his brother.

Mark Harris, 41, from Alsager in Cheshire, will be joined by six friends on the 55-mile trek from the bet365 Stadium to Hillsborough Stadium on Saturday 15 September.

Mark’s brother Paul has the rare heart and lung disease pulmonary hypertension (PH) and the group are raising money for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA UK). The charity operates from Thorncliffe Park in Chapeltown and works nationally to provide support to people affected by the life-limiting condition.

The fundraisers will leave Stoke at 7pm and trek through the night to reach Hillsborough in time for the 3pm Stoke City v Sheffield Wednesday kick-off. After the game, they plan to visit the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, to say a personal thank you for the care that Paul receives there.

Mark’s brother Paul, 38, lives in Newcastle-under-Lyme and has been travelling to the specialist centre - one of only seven in the UK - since he was diagnosed with PH in 2015. He is hoping the challenge will help raise awareness of the little-known condition, which affects just 7,000 people in the UK.

Symptoms of PH typically involve breathlessness, fatigue, black-outs and swelling around the ankles, arms and stomach. The condition affects the ability to carry out basic tasks and get around.

Mark said: “The walk is in recognition of the support Paul has received from both the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and the PHA UK. It’s massively important that people understand more about PH. When I get asked in the street how my brother is doing, one of the frustrations is trying to explain what’s going on underneath when he looks so well on the outside - so we’re all hoping this challenge helps to raise awareness too.”

Paul said: “One of the hardest things about living with the disease is that no one really knows what it is. I look fine on the outside, so it’s difficult for people to understand that it’s a life-limiting condition. It can be very challenging mentally too, and that’s something I have to deal with every single day.

“I’m really chuffed that Mark and the guys are taking on this walk to raise even more awareness, and money for the PHA UK. “

The PHA UK is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting the PH community made up of patients, their family and carers and NHS professionals.

Chair Iain Armstrong added: “We’re very grateful to Mark and his friends for taking on this challenge and we wish them the best of luck. It’s vitally important that more people understand what life is like for people with pulmonary hypertension and events like this really help to get conversations going.”

To support the challenge, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peaks4pha

Notes to editor

Images show Paul (left) and Mark Harris.

Paul and Mark Harris are available for interview; please contact Mary Ferguson at Capital B Media on 01226 766900 or at mary@capitalbmedia.co.uk

The team taking on the walk is made up of Mark Harris, Marc Fouldes, Rob Sandal, Mark Evans, Noel Scott, Julian Wilshaw and Laurence Greenhalgh.

Paul and his father Steve will drive ahead in a car filled with supplies, and park up every three miles to deliver refreshments. 

About pulmonary hypertension (PH)

People can be born with PH or develop it at any time and it can affect anyone, regardless of age or ethnic background. It affects more women than men.

The seven adult specialist PH centres in the UK are within the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle; Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow; Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield; Papworth Hospital NHS Trust in Cambridgeshire; and Hammersmith Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital and Royal Free Hospital in London.

For further information about pulmonary hypertension visit www.phauk.org, call the PHA UK office on 01709 761450 or e-mail office@phauk.org.   

PHA UK is a registered charity no: 1120756

This press release was prepared by Capital B Media, a public relations and media training agency based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. For more information, please visit www.capitalbmedia.co.uk.

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