Charity throws lifeline to family man

Family man Kevin Binding is getting ready to enjoy a new lease of life after receiving a huge helping hand from a Weston-super-Mare charity.

The 43-year-old, who suffered a stroke in December 2014, will have surgery next month to close a valve in his heart which will significantly reduce the risk of him suffering further strokes, and will enable him to live a normal life again.

The private procedure, needed because the NHS no longer funds the treatment Kevin needs, has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from The Axentis Michael Charitable Trust.

The father-of-four was getting ready for work one morning when he suddenly started seeing double. “I thought it was a head rush because I had got up too quickly, and thought it would pass,” he said.

After experiencing more double vision and slurred speech, he underwent a series of tests which resulted in the stroke diagnosis. “It was a real shock, because you don’t expect to suffer a stroke when you are just 40.”

The cause was identified as patent foramen ovale (PFO), a hole between the upper chambers of the heart. This exists in everyone, but it usually closes naturally shortly after birth. “I was told that it needed to be closed, and I thought I was on a waiting list for it to be done,” he said.

After waiting a few months, he then learned that the NHS had stopped funding this procedure in 2013, and his only option was to have it done privately, which would cost £17,000. Family members and friends rallied round and their efforts raised £5,000.

The family had also been put in touch with the Axentis Michael Charitable Trust to see if there was anything that the organisation could do to help.

“In February, I had a call from Alex at the Trust, who said they were going to cover the rest of the costs I needed for my treatment. I couldn’t believe it. It would have taken me another three or four years, at least, to raise enough money.”

Prior to his stoke, Kevin had enjoyed an active lifestyle, including kickboxing, and he and partner Gemma had got themselves fitter than they had both been for years.

But the stoke had a huge impact on his life. “I had to second guess everything I did, wondering if it would be too much,” he said. “So I had to hold back from even doing simple things, like going on fairground rides with the family. I’d have to tell myself I had better not do anything remotely exciting, and had to step away and not join in with the family.”

The couple, who run the Crafty Monkeys craft activity centre in Oxford Street, Weston, said they do not have the words to express their gratitude to the charity.

Kevin is due to have the procedure at the end of June at a private hospital in Bristol, and said he is looking forward to be able to do “normal” activities with the family.

Alex Demetriou, from the Trust, said: “We are pleased to have been able to help. To have had a stroke at the age of 40, and then find out that the NHS no longer funds the procedure you need, was extremely stressful for Kevin and his family. They had made a huge effort themselves to raise money, and we were only too pleased to be able to pay the balance so that Kevin can have the treatment as soon as possible, and get back to being an active member of his family.”

The Axentis Michael Charitable Trust started as a memorial in honour of the life of local hotelier Axentis Michael, who died in 2003. It raises and distributes funds to worthy causes in the area, and also supports the Princes Trust in providing funding for local start-up businesses. The Trust has already donated more than £1 million to people in need over the past decade.

The charity has become well-known for holding a bi-annual Axentis Michael Memorial Ball, the most recent of which took place on the resort’s Grand Pier in December, raising more than £250,000.

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