Colin’s amazing 80-80 challenge

Having been raising funds for Little Hearts Matter more or less since the birth of our grandson in 2004 in recognition of the enormous help the staff have given to our family, I approached my 78th birthday in December 2021 in the knowledge that it would be unlikely that I would be able to continue for very many years in the future.

I’d been part of two teams who had completed two half marathons in the previous five years, in total bringing in more than £20,000 for LHM, so I wanted to do a two year project to mark my 80th birthday in 2023. Fortunately for me, the inspiration came in the form of Captain Sir Tom Moore, the hero who raised over £33,000,000 for the NHS by doing 100 laps of the grounds of the garden where he lived running up to his 100th birthday.

I decided that, starting on the 1st December 2023, I would walk an average of around 4.25 kilometres per day for 19 days (80 kilometres in total) leading up to my 80th birthday, naming it Colin’s 80/80 Walk for Little Hearts Matter. Setting an initial modest target of £5,000 to be achieved principally by bucket collections at superstores and garden centres we found we quickly had to double the target to £10,000.

However, with less than 12 months to go, we are already past 85% of the amended target, with the vast majority coming from those bucket collections and a team of 40 who help raise funds at no cost to themselves through their online shopping.

Clearly, consideration has to be given whether to once again double the target. Regardless of how much is eventually raised the overwhelming motivation is to help raise funds to enable the board and staff to continue to provide magnificent support to all LHM families.

If you’d like to make a donation to my JustGiving page, please visit: Colin Barrett is fundraising for Little Hearts Matter (

Colin’s Story

It was the day of our daughter’s 19 week scan and my wife Christine and I were eagerly awaiting the return of Sally and Spencer so that we would know whether 3 year old Joe was going to have a brother or a sister. Our excitement built as the car pulled on to the drive but instead of the elation we expected to see their faces told us that something was wrong.

Sally, a paediatric physiotherapist, had seen children with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and was able to tell us what it meant, even though a second scan was required to confirm the diagnosis. Our attempts to offer words of comfort understandably fell flat. It was decided that Joe would stay with us when Sally went into hospital for Thomas’s birth, in the knowledge that it was likely to be for some time.

At one time it felt like every congregation in Worcestershire was praying for his recovery. It was a massive relief to learn that surgery had gone well. The next few months were akin to any roller coaster that Disneyland could offer, with highs and lows in equal measure, but our little heart warrior overcame all the challenges that were thrust his way and progressed as well as could be expected.

We were so thankful for the skills and dedication of the team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and so incredibly fortunate that we were in the hands of the pioneers in the UK for dealing with HLHS.

We were absolutely delighted to see how Thomas’s quality of life improved so much after the Fontan procedure. His progress moved up into another gear, his appetite improved and now, at the age of 14, he eats like any adult.

His school reports are excellent and he is gifted with perfect pitch, according to his piano teacher. His keen sense of humour continuously amuses us and he is looking forward to attending university in years to come.

Through the whole of his life and the months prior to his birth after that first scan our family has received outstanding support from the staff at Little Hearts Matter, to whom we were referred by Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Sally and Chris attended an Open Day before Thomas was born and found great reassurance from seeing children with HLHS behaving like any other children as they enjoyed themselves.(I fully recommend every family to attend an Open Day, if possible).

Since that day the level of support has never wavered and we are so very grateful for the literature that the team produces that seem to cover every aspect of life with HLHS, and with the support line available whenever a family needs to talk.As a family we feel we owe it to the team and Trustees at LHM to do regular fundraising as our way of saying thank you for their compassion and support and to ensure they can continue to offer the same support to recently diagnosed mothers-to-be.

From the bottom of our hearts we say a collective thank you to Suzie and her team.

You are all magnificent!