2016 September

Tribute to two dear friends – Jimmy & Ray

During August Bright Red lost two very important gentleman. Jimmy Lowes and Ray Hill have both been patients at the Freeman for a number of years. The fought different blood cancers, but fought their diseases with the same determination, dignity and positive outlook.

Both Ray and Jimmy have tirelessly raised funds for Bright Red. We simply wouldn’t be where we are today without them, they went above and beyond.

When I first started Ray was one of the first patients I met. He spent a great deal of time teaching me about his illness, pointing me in the direction of current research projects and giving me a lot of pointers on what types of things we should be doing to help the north.

Jimmy was always using his charm to increase sign ups to our annual Freeman Fun Run and was a shining star for the charity when he agreed to be filmed for the ‘Pulling Together ‘ video. Jimmy was the only one to learn his lines and really did the charity proud.

I hope they knew just how important they were to us – we are so grateful for everything they did. Our thoughts are very much with the families of these two wonderful men.


Second Annual Black Sheep Games Raises A Further £1,140

On 21 August the team at Black Sheep Fitness team from South Shields arranged held their second Black Sheep Games.

The event saw 36 members take part in 4 extreme workouts, with the highest scoring 3 teams battling it out in a final event.

Fundraising Manager Lisa said “We are so grateful to Mark, Lee and the rest of the team for organising another Black Sheep Games event. It’s always fantastic to be associated with such a professionally ran fundraiser, we can’t wait to join them next year.”


Local Electrician Completed Channel Swim In Under 12 Hours – Rasing £5,500 for blood cancer patients

We are delighted to share the news that our supporter Graham Walton has completed his Channel swim challenge, in a fantastic time of 11 hours and 50 minutes.

Graham was faced with very difficult swim conditions, as well as having the added mental stress of being the next swimmer in line after a fundraiser sadly passed away during their challenge.

Graham explains “I didn’t have the best preparation hearing the news that a poor soul had died attempting the swim, I was next in line to go across!

The plan was to take it easy, concentrate on technique and ease my way across to France. Starting in a flat sea everything went according to plan, but that only lasted an hour! The sea changed to a very lumpy and unpredictable mess. Technique goes out of the window in these conditions and it becomes a bloody minded, energy sapping slog which was to last for around the next six hours.

As the tide started to turn the surface became more of a rolling swell which is easier to deal with so I thought I would relax back into the swim , until the call came from the boat to get a shift on to gain as much distance as possible in the slack water . I gave what I had but it was tough going after battling the waves for so long .

Towards the end of the swim the sea flattened out which was a huge relief so I could cruise into France at a leisurely pace. Wrong again, the pilot told me I had two hours to get to France on this tide, if I didn’t make it the swim would take an extra three hours waiting for the next tide turn.

A two hour “sprint” finish followed while my amazing support crew shouted encouragement from the boat and alongside me driving me on. I finally landed on the rocks after 11 hours 50 minutes at Cap Gris Nez a channel swimmer .

It hurt all day and still does now, but I’d wager that every person helped by Bright Red would swap places with me in an instant . And that’s why it’s worth it , thank you for the donations they have really driven me on.

A “solo” channel swim sounds like an individual challenge , it really isn’t and would be practically impossible to achieve without a support group of friends and family around you. I can’t thank everyone involved enough for the sacrifices they’ve made over the last couple of years to get me through this. I really couldn’t have done it without them.”

Bright Red’s Charity Manager Ashley Elliott said “What Graham has done is nothing short of amazing. Graham faced a lot of challenges and put his body through a great deal – but he’s completed the swim in a fantastic time and raised a fortune for our charity. He has raised over £5.500 which means we’ll be able to directly help 16 more patients struggling financially. We can never thank him and his team enough.

You can sponsor Graham via his JustGiving page : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Graham-Walton1

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