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Doting dad pledges support for stroke unit after wedding joy

An Ellesmere Port father is doing a sponsored walk to raise money for the Countess of Chester Hospital after its stroke unit helped him to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Paul collage

Paul Holding, 60, is taking part in Walk for Wards in the Countess of Chester Country Park on 9 October to thank the therapists that enabled him to be there on his daughter Emma’s big day.

The martial arts instructor arrived at the Countess for therapy in late June, with a little over five weeks until the 5 August wedding date, after having a stroke as a side effect of triple heart bypass and mitral valve replacement surgery.

"It was one of those horrible moments when you see it running straight at you and realise you might not be able to make that date,” he said.

“We’ve been really lucky and it meant we could achieve this really nice outcome for Emma. It would have been horrible if I couldn’t have been there. It was the best day ever. We can’t thank everyone at the hospital enough.”

Paul, who has worked in Wirral Council’s supported housing division for 34 years, first noticed something was not right after he had two heart attacks on successive early June days.

When the extent of the issues were revealed Emma considered moving her wedding date, but Paul insisted he would find a way to be there.

Paul, whose wife Gaynor visited him in hospital every day, had certain elements of the rehab tailored for him, such as practising walking in the shoes he would wear on the day. He also took part in group classes including breakfast club, which involves navigating a kitchen and cooking meals, and training on the bikes.

"They make it fun," he said. "If you can't do something, they find something you can and they were like that with everyone. It made you feel part of a team."

Paul, who runs the Epic Aikido martial arts school, is now aiming to help the unit to buy more of the equipment he used during his time on the ward.

Therapist Lawrence Holland, who managed to raise enough money for three specialist wheelchairs through last year’s event, said: “It’s great that Paul wants to give something back to the unit by doing Walk for Wards. Helping him and his family to enjoy Emma’s special day was incredibly rewarding and we’re all very touched that he now wants to do this for us.”

This will be the second year the hospital has staged a Walk for Wards event in the nearby Countess of Chester Country Park, with a total of £15,000 being raised in 2015.

Community fundraiser Angie Lopez added: “Paul’s story and his reasons for doing Walk for Wards epitomise what the event is all about. It’s a chance for people to give something back and say thank you to specific areas of the hospital that are special to them.

“There are 2k and 6k walks so anyone can get involved, while there is a nature trail and a number of other activities for children to enjoy. People who want to help without walking can also volunteer on the day. We’d love to see as many as possible getting involved.”

:: You can support Paul’s fundraising efforts by visiting:

:: For more information about Walk for Wards contact community fundraiser Angie Lopez on 01244366240 or email:
To sign up for Walk for Wards visit:

:: Paul's story is also featured in the next issue of Countess Matters.

Paul C Matters