A 51-year-old man is in training for a marathon charity walk just three months after becoming one of the first people in the UK to undergo robotic heart surgery.
Now fully recovered Owen Veldhuizen, Community Regeneration Manager at Cartrefi Conwy housing association, will be joining colleagues to complete the Anglesey Coastal Walk.
The annual Leadership Challenge is being organised by Cartrefi Conwy’s modern apprentices to raise £5,000 for the Osborne Trust which is their chosen charity this year.
The trust provides practical and emotional support for children and young people aged 16 and younger during a parent’s cancer treatment.
Staff at Cartrefi Conwy voted to support the Rhuddlan-based charity which was founded by mum of two Emma Osborne in 2014 after she overcame breast cancer.
Some of the walkers trekked the first 64 miles of the walk last year and Owen, from Llandudno, is now looking forward to joining his colleagues to complete the remaining section from Beaumaris to Holyhead over three days, starting on Thursday, May 10.
Owen’s now fit as a fiddle after the ground-breaking operation in February to repair his damaged mitral valve.
Surgeons at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital guided a robot to carry out the procedure which cut the recovery time from eight weeks to three.
Owen said: “I can’t believe how well I feel and how much I enjoyed walking with colleagues in an18 mile preparation walk last Saturday, picking up the Anglesey Coastal Walk where they left off last year.
“It’s a fabulous event and our modern apprentices, who are responsible for all the logistics and planning, are doing a fabulous job. I’m sure we will raise the £5,000 from the walk that can go toward a bigger total for the year.
“And I think the Osborne Trust is an amazing and very worthwhile charity that is deserving of our support.”
Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden says he is proud of the whole team for the way they have embraced the Leadership Challenge.
He said: “We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. We want to raise £10,000 for the Osborne Trust through the year and the challenge is one of a number of events we’re using to raise this money and the profile of the good work that the trust does.
Cartrefi Conwy company secretary Sandra Lee was one of those that walked 64 miles in three days last year.
She said: “Colleagues from right across Cartrefi Conwy are taking part, from the chief executive to neighbourhood services staff and members of our building maintenance team. It’s a fabulous team-building opportunity and everyone is happy to put the effort in for such a good cause.
“The Leadership Challenge is proving a big success and is giving our modern apprentices new skills, confidence and experience that they are able to take into their daily work.”
According to modern apprentice Kristyn Roberts, who works in administration, she is thoroughly enjoying the experience.
She said: “We are lucky in that the Co-op have agreed to supply bottled water, fruit and snacks for the walkers. But we need to think about getting the water and fruit to where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
“Then we need to ensure the empty water bottles are returned for recycling. We have also had to plan mini buses, campsite accommodation, lunch boxes for each day and so forth. Then there’s First Aid and ensuring everyone is safe.”
Daniel Twitchett started his modern apprenticeship with Cartrefi Conwy in March after leaving the Royal Artillery, and says he has been putting his skills to good use to ensure the success of the Leadership Challenge.
He said: “It’s about building confidence and getting to know my new colleagues. I was also able to help by preparing risk assessments and making plans should we have an unexpected medical emergency.”
Customer services manager Amy Garner added: “It’s also a great way to get to know each other whatever the role people play in the organisation. Cartrefi Conwy is a Times Top 100 company to work for and it shows with events such as the Leadership Challenge, it’s all about having a smile on your face.”
Andrew Bowden added: “It’s wonderful to be able to give colleagues the opportunity to pull this together and be involved. The walk last year was challenging and I’m sure this year will be no different.
“It doesn’t matter what position you hold within the organisation this is about team work and team building.
“Our modern apprentices were set the challenge of organising the whole event from start to finish and they have done a superb job. I will have my walking boots on and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
To find out more about the Osborne Trust please visit www.theosbornetrust.com