Tony Park, from Blackburn, rode in one of the UK’s most iconic cycling events, the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Manchester to Blackpool Night Ride, exactly 24 months after having a heart attack, to raise money for the charity’s life saving research.
Tony was on a golfing holiday in Spain with friends when he had a heart attack. He had been having chest pains in the year leading up the trip, and went several times to the hospital, but heart issues were ruled out after nothing unusual showed up on his ECG or enzyme tests.
On September 30th 2016 he was on a round of golf on his holiday with friends and started to get similar chest pains but didn’t think it was his heart, after the hospital visits and tests on previous occasions. This time the chest pain lasted longer than ever before and the pain also started to extend down his right arm.
He won the game of golf, but when the group returned to the accommodation he asked his friend Andy to take him to the hospital so he could be checked out. He was put on observation, had an ECG and enzyme test which usually show if a person has had a heart attack, and at about 3am the following morning the Spanish doctors confirmed that he’d had a heart attack.
Tony said: “It was all a bit surreal, especially being far from home and my family but my friend Andy, stayed on with me to provide much needed support and a familiar face. The University Hospital of Torrevieja was a fantastic hospital, but it didn’t have a specialist cardiac ward so I was placed in the intensive care unit and had to be moved to another hospital 45 minutes down the road as my chest pain was getting more severe.
“I took the view that in the situation I was in, I just had to place myself in the hands of the experts and just go along with what the doctors say.”
On arrival at the second hospital Tony had an angiogram and doctors put a stent in that evening, before returning him to Torrevieja where two days later another two stents were put into his arteries.
Tony stayed in hospital in Spain for a week, and his wife Alison flew out to bring him home and help him recuperate. He left hospital on Friday 7th October 2016, exactly two years to the day later he crossed the finishing line of the BHF’s Manchester to Blackpool Night Ride, very cold but supported by friends, including Andy and his brother John.
At midnight on 6th October 2018 Tony and around 3,000 riders set off from the Old Trafford Cricket Club in Manchester and took on the 52 mile challenge, heading for the glow of the Blackpool sea front and famous illuminations which are left on especially for the occasion.
On the same day Tony’s wife Alison held her dance event for the charity and dedicated it to one of the dancers who they sadly lost earlier on April 15th of that year. That Sunday, one of the attendees, Paul Owen, 57, felt unwell before leaving the room and collapsing in the foyer. The group included a number of dancers who were CPR trained and the venue had a defibrillator but unfortunately, despite everyone’s efforts, Paul never regained consciousness and passed away after having a cardiac arrest, following a heart attack. All proceeds from the dance went towards the British Heart Foundation’s life saving research.
The BHF relies on the enormous generosity of its supporters to pay for its ground-breaking research into heart and circulatory diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia and conditions that increase their risk, such as diabetes. In the Blackburn area alone there are around 17,400 people living with heart and circulatory diseases.
British Heart Foundation
Heart and circulatory disease causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK. For over 50 years we’ve pioneered research that’s transformed the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. Our work has been central to the discoveries of vital treatments that are changing the fight against heart disease. But so many people still need our help. From babies born with life-threatening heart problems to the many Mums, Dads and Grandparents who survive a heart attack and endure the daily battles of heart failure. Every pound raised, minute of your time and donation to our shops will help make a difference to people’s lives.
Find out more at bhf.org.uk