‘Kerry and the Pacemakers’ Never Work Alone
Three friends and neighbours from the same road in South Liverpool, have joined forces to restore a communal garden, despite all experiencing heart health problems.
All residents at Springwood Court, Allerton, Kerry Harrald, 59, Dorothy Burgess, 73 and Stephen Felton, 65 came together through the pandemic with their shared interest in gardening and a desire to restore the old walled garden at the rear of their properties. However, they soon realised they had much more in in common than just the renovation.
The gardening pals discovered they all had a pacemaker fitted to help maintain or regulate their heart rates, and so the trio became known as ‘Kerry and the Pacemakers’.
Kerry, a retired Liverpool bus driver, experienced a serious heart attack in January 2017. He said: “I was told that technically I ‘died’ for several minutes. My heart had stopped but thanks to the amazing skill of the paramedics, they managed to bring me back.
“I was immediately transferred to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital (LHCH)and placed under the care of consultant cardiologists, Dr Nick Palmer and Professor Jay Wright. I underwent stent and defibrillator placement and then after a period in intensive care I was moved to a ward before being discharged home.
“Although I ended up retiring from my job, I will always be eternally grateful to the staff who looked after me. I cannot thank the team at LHCH enough for their kindness - from the consultants, to the nurses on the ward, the support staff, and especially the nurse who made me cups of tea in the middle of restless nights! The care I received at LHCH was outstanding in every way and I’m happy to go back for my regular check-ups.”
Kerry added: “Since my treatment, I’ve made considerable adjustments to my life. I had plans to buy a motorbike and set off like Bear Grylls on extended wild camping expeditions, but now I tire much more easily and so I lead a quieter life. My wife Linda’s calm and prompt attention when I had my heart attack and her care of me ever since has been second to none. I love crafts, am an expert at making colourful paracord items, including bracelets and key rings, and really enjoy helping with the walled garden project.”
Mum of two, Dorothy, is also a patient at LHCH as well as being a Public Governor. She said: “I’d undergone extensive cancer treatment for many years and unfortunately this affected my heart. As a result, my pacemaker was fitted in September 2019.
“As a Public Governor at the hospital, it’s been fascinating to watch the development and growth of LHCH’s cardio-oncology service, which is a collaboration between LHCH and Clatterbridge Hospital. It involves cardiologists and oncologists and provides cardiac assessment and care for a wide-range of patients before, during and after their cancer treatment.”
Dorothy, retired Non Executive Director for a mental health trust and with a background of psychological counselling, added: “I undertook some further training following my cancer treatment and have been able to support patients dealing with the impact of cancer. I’ve also been able to offer support to the lung cancer team at LHCH, addressing patient meetings and volunteering to assist the exemplary ward staff. Plus, I make sure I’ve always got time to help in the garden.”
Stephen, a retired civil servant, moved into the neighbourhood a few months' ago with his wife Lynne having lived previously in India and Malta.
He said: “I had my heart pacemaker fitted in Malta in September 2020, but I don’t let it stop me from being physically active. I know how important it is to keep my heart healthy, and although I don’t do marathons anymore, I still run regularly. I also enjoy cycling 15-20 miles every day and working with my pals in the garden.”
‘Kerry and the Pacemakers’ all say that the pandemic has been made much more bearable, by having a clear sense of purpose, unity and friendship and they know that with the help of other family and friends, they will never work alone!
Photo: Stephen, Dorothy, Kerry’s wife Linda and Kerry.
February is Heart Month - if you have a patient story or experience that you'd like to share, please get in touch.