Dedicated Ron Kitching still fundraising for hospital - 21 years after live-saving operation
Twenty-one years ago businessman Ron Kitching underwent a life-saving operation that inspired him to give something back to people in North East Lincolnshire. Reporter Dan Russell caught up with him to find out how his life has changed.
THE Grimsby And District Healthcare Charity was founded in 1997 to raise money for the town's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital.
The inspiration to set the charity up came after Ron Kitching started fundraising after undergoing a quadruple heart bypass operation in November 1991.
After his procedure he realised that more support, funding and equipment was needed for the hospital, in Scartho Road.
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The 80-year-old said: "On August 4, 1990, I had a heart attack.
"At the time I was 58 years old and was working at my turkey farm.
"I was rushed to hospital and went through the usual procedures and diagnostics and I was told I needed a quadruple heart bypass, which I had in November the following year.
"The nearest thing to having a heart attack that I can think of is having severe cramp in your chest.
"I was in pain for about five minutes and then passed out and luckily woke up later in the coronary care unit.
"I was at Hull first for coronary care, but I had my operation at Castle Hill Hospital, in Cottingham.
"It took me about three months to recover from the procedure and during that time I decided I wanted to give something back."
Mr Kitching decided that he wanted to raise money that could be used to improve heart care in the area.
He said: "I retired from my businesses and started fundraising for the British Heart Foundation.
"I did that until 1996, but during my time there I realised a lot of the local money that was being raised was sent to other areas and wasn't spent in Grimsby.
"I didn't think this was right, so I decided to set up my own charity where the money would be spent at the Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital.
"The charity got off the ground on September 5, 1997, and the rule we set was that we would only raise money for life-saving equipment.
"Since we started we have bought £380,000 worth of equipment for the hospital and our Big Red Heart Appeal is currently raising money for a new heart unit at the hospital."
The Big Red Heart Appeal has recently raised £81,000 for a new gamma camera, which is used to scan the heart for blood-flow abnormalities.
The charity is hoping to raise at least £500,000 by September next year for equipment, including monitors and tilt table rooms, among other things.
Mr Kitching said: "It is so important to get this new heart unit up and running.
"We are doing as much as we can to raise the money, but we need more help.
"When the new unit is up and running it will have a big impact in the local community
"Having a heart attack made me realise that I am lucky to be alive and anything I can do to help is a bonus.
"When I had my operation they said it would last me between ten and 12 years, but I am still here 21 years later and very thankful."
The Grimsby And District Healthcare Charity has a shop in Freeman Street, Grimsby, and is always looking for more donations of clothing, furniture and anything else that could be spared.
For more information or to help raise money call 01472 320633.