15.07.17 It’s countdown to one of our biggest and most popular fundraising events of the year – the Grand Canal Challenge. With well over 150 people taking part, it’s going to be a special day with participants walking, running and cycling a variety of distances between the two hospitals. All involved will then finish the day with a festival of food, drink and music at Harefield Hospital. At least two people’s lives will be saved as a direct result of this event because we are going to buy two MitraClips – these are small pieces of equipment which are not available on the NHS but a lot of private patients have access to them, so we are buying as many as we can for our NHS patients. They are used for people when they are too poorly to have open heart surgery, and yet they are pretty miraculous clips used in valve operations. Harefield is at the forefront of using MitraClips – one such operation is taking place today as I write this. Working in or close to hospitals often brings tears to my eyes. I talk to a lot of patients because I go to one of our wards on Friday mornings to ask patients who are going home for the weekend, if they wouldn’t mind completing the Friends and Family test. I hear amazing stories of courage and strength, of living positively even with serious heart and lung conditions. I also hear great praise for our NHS colleagues – working in every area; cleaners, catering, porters, nurses, doctors. It makes my Fridays very special indeed. Back to the Grand Canal Challenge – are you coming? If so, come and say hello to me (I never know if or how many people read this blog!) If you haven’t signed up yet – please do – you will be doing something fantastic for our patients. And if you can’t make it, please think about supporting us anyway, by whatever method you wish, because you really make a difference.