Tydd St Mary staff and pupils visit Royal Paworth Hospital to say a special thank you
A primary school staff member who suffered a heart attack last year returned to the hospital that treated him with pupils to say some special thank yous.
Steve Ely, a caretaker and teaching assistant at Tydd St Mary Primary School, suffered a heart attack in August 2022 when out cycling 10 miles from home.
Now, just over a year since his heart attack, Steve returned to Royal Papworth Hospital with Sonya – who is headteacher at the school – and seven pupils.
“It’s great to come back” said Steve.
“This is a special place and it’s not sad to be back at all, as I’ve only got positive memories.
“Royal Papworth is an unbelievable hospital with amazing teams of people.
“Not only was my treatment first-class but the space, the tranquility, the wide corridors, the natural light and the large patient rooms here really stood out. I’m so thankful to everyone for the care I received.
When suffering his heart attack while out riding, Steve initially messaged Sonya before turning back towards home.
However, with his discomfort growing, he soon stopped and was picked up by his wife.
A brief visit to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn confirmed he had suffered a heart attack and he was then transferred to Royal Papworth Hospital, the UK’s leading heart and lung hospital.
Steve went into a catheter laboratory for an angioplasty procedure carried out by consultant cardiologist, Dr Denise Braganza, who inserted two stents into his heart to hold open a narrowed artery.
He then spent time recovering in the hospital’s cardiology wards.
On his visit to the hospital, Steve – who returned to his teaching assistant duties on a phased return in November, before recommencing caretaker duties in early 2023 – met Chief Executive Eilish Midlane, Dr Braganza, who showed the children examples of stents used in an angioplasty, and also nurses from the catheter laboratory team that treated him.
The group also enjoyed a tour of the adjacent Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Heart and Lung Research Institute (HLRI), where they learnt more about some of the world-leading research tackling global cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
“For us to also go and learn more about the research at the HLRI and hear about advancements that will hopefully benefit people in the next 10-15 years, was absolutely incredible,” Steve added.
“I hope meeting the doctors and nurses has inspired these youngsters to work in the NHS in the future.”
Dr Braganza commented: “It was lovely to meet Steve again and see him doing so well.
“His pupils were a delight to welcome too, asking some great questions and they were able to see some stents up-close, exactly the type as those inserted into Steve’s heart.
“We hope they enjoyed their visit and go on to develop a keen interest in healthcare.”
Since Steve’s heart attack, pupils and staff at Tydd St Mary Primary School have raised £6,444 for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) through a number of fundraising initiatives – one of which saw Steve and colleagues cycle 160 miles from the school to his childhood home in Swindon.
Pupils donned roller skates, scooters and bikes for sponsored laps of the playground, while each class also walked the equivalent of a marathon distance around a track between them.
“When Sonya told me the pupils wanted to raise money for the BHF because of me, that was quite emotional,” Steve continued.
“We initially set a £1,000 target, hoping to make £2,000, as we didn’t want the children to be disappointed if we didn’t achieve it.
“However we hit the £1,000 within 24 hours and it kept going.”
Gary Atyes is Fundraising Manager for Cambridgeshire at the British Heart Foundation.
“Amazing support like this is vital if the BHF is to continue funding research to save and improve lives,” he said.
“This work has never been more needed, as despite the great progress we have made over the years, heart and circulatory diseases still kill around one in four people – so there is still so much more for us to do.
“The staff, pupils and their parents raised an incredible amount of money with their fundraising, they should be very proud.”
A heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to part of the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.
Symptoms can include chest pain which might spread from your chest to other parts of your body, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, sweating, feeling sick or a feeling similar to indigestion.
A heart attack is a medical emergency. Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you suspect a heart attack.