Without a doubt the best thing I ever did as a radio presenter was live in a shop window for charity back in May 2007.
The charity in question was the Blackburn Community Sports Club and in particular their disabled football division. It was here I met a very special young man and his family – Alex Hook. At the time Alex was 15 and had not long been through a really serious operation to try and aid his mobility. His Mum Heather told me the story of how she and her husband Nigel had watched their eldest child go through an agonising 4 months of intense pain, for the slim chance that Alex might walk again. I will never ever forget Heather that day. You see, even when telling me the unbelievably tragic story of Alex’s agonising operation – she had her trademark smile on her face and just refused to acknowledge the negative side of the situation. You see, Heather is one of life’s little diamonds who refuses to let ANYTHING get her down. She and her family have been through so much but she just carries on, smile on face, and sprinkles her magic dust that keeps her family sparkling the way they do. I love this family and we’ve all kept in touch ever since myself and my co-host Adam Catterall lived in shop windows to raise money for the BCSC disabled team.
Last night there was a fundraiser held for Alex. He is now 20 years old and is in desperate need of a new wheelchair. Debbie Riley of BCSC explains his story on Alex’s Just Giving page
We’re raising funds to help get a new wheelchair for Alex.
Alex was born prematurely and as a result has Cerebral Palsy, which means he has weakness in the left side of his body and cannot walk. He has been a member of BCSC disability section from it’s inception & is a popular lad with members and volunteers alike. His parents have been staunch supporters of BCSC, raising many thousands of pounds to help us develop the diability section of the club and to reduce the costs of the annual trip for this section so that as many children as possible can benefit from it.
Alex is now 20 and completing his final year on a sports course at Blackburn College. He started this course 3 years ago with great aspirations and dreams for his future, hoping to get a job within the sports and leisure industry.
Alex is desperately in need of a new wheelchair. This is his only means of getting around and he is pretty much in it all day, every day. His present chair gives him very little support hence causing him discomfort and pain. The frame is also heavy and clumsy, causing restrictions on his ability to propel himself.This has become a huge barrier for Alex, particularly when he is independently trying to get from one place to the next, for example around college.
His mum has spent a lot of time researching suitable wheelchairs and recently found one for Alex that is lightweight, custom made and easy to manoeuvre.It will meet his medical needs, reinforce a life of independence, and help him to feel good about himself.One of the vital elements of this chair is that due to its design it is more discreet, allowing for us to see more of Alex, and less of the chair.Additionally it is aesthetically pleasing, looking young and trendy which will help to boost Alex’s confidence and ultimately make such a difference to his life.
The fundraising event was the ‘biggie’ last night. With a hilarious comedian, a fantastic live band and countless supportive friends and family members it was a wonderful night and the big opportunity to raise the bulk of the £3,500 needed for Alex’s new chair.
At the last minute before I left the house I chucked my camera in my bag. When I got to the event I was gutted to realise I only had the prime lens that was on the camera, which isn’t the best in low light, and so for the first part of the night I just tried to take photos as best as I could. During the last hour I thought “Sod it!” it didn’t need to be polished and professional, it didn’t need to be visually and audibly perfect and I’m so glad I did as I was able to capture the last and most fun, part of the night:
Good luck Alex! I can’t wait to hear what the final total is, see you get your new dream chair and race you to the shops next time I’m at yours (once your Mother and I have stopped cackling together of course!).