In an ideal world, all our hospitals would be packed with the very latest equipment provided by the government. But the reality is that the National Health Service simply cannot afford everything that it needs. Which is where people like Mick Lyons come in.
Mick’s just begun his 30th year of fundraising to buy equipment for Portsmouth’s two hospitals. So far he has collected a grand total of £11m. Yes, you did read that correctly, £11m.
The ex-policeman had a very personal reason for getting involved. Having lost his mother to cancer, he determined to do all he could to help buy the equipment that would save the lives of others.
He says movingly: ‘At that time we were sending men into space. All the talk was of inter-continental missiles, yet my mother, a well-built woman who was six feet tall, left this earth as a skeleton because we didn’t have the technology here to diagnose it early enough. By the time we found out it was too late.’
Fittingly, Mick himself is now benefiting from the use of a lithotripter – a machine used to break up kidney and gall stones – that he raised money for.
Of course, he hasn’t done it all on his own. Mick would be the first to say that he owes a debt of thanks to the many people who have helped to raise that £11m by holding events and sales or being sponsored for all sorts of activities. Not to forget the volunteers who man the stalls, motivated purely by a desire to help people who they will probably never meet.
At the age of 69, Mick should be enjoying a well-earned retirement. But instead he has embarked on yet another challenge, this time to raise £3m for state-of-the-art digital keyhole operating theatres. These will have features which are the first of their kind in the UK and will be sited at the Queen Alexandra Hospital.
The result will be that waiting times are reduced so more patients can be treated and with less risk of pain and infection.
We wish Mick well in his endeavours and salute all those kind-hearted people in our communities who do what they can to help others.