A Whitehaven mum-of-two from Whitehaven will be raising money in memory of her dad for the British Heart Foundation.
Michelle Lowery was eight years old when her father, Brian Glaister, had two heart attacks followed by a stroke.
Brian, who was just 38 at the time, was hospitalised for six months, and the stroke left him paralysed on one side of his body.
Michelle, now aged 37, said: “Dad went from being a physically healthy man to being unable to walk or talk.
“He even initially found it hard to recognise me and my sister, Joanne, who was 11 at the time.
“It had a huge effect and we had to all go through counselling.
“It was a long road to recovery for dad when he returned home, and we all had to quickly adapt to the sudden change in our lives.”
Brian was forced to take early retirement from his job as a sewerage operator. He required use of a wheelchair to get around and needed round-the-clock care.
Thanks to the support of his family – including Michelle’s mum, Margaret – Brian was slowly able to build up his strength and was able to walk again.
But in September 2020, Brian suddenly fell unwell and was rushed to hospital.
Michelle, who works as a personal banker for Santander, said: “They found that dad had contracted sepsis and his organs were failing.
“He was taken to intensive care and he went into cardiac arrest. He was able to be revived, but then suffered another which he couldn’t recover from.
“It was awful to experience and all just so sudden. The hardest thing was that we didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to him before he died. Being his youngest daughter, I was always a daddy’s girl, and I will miss him forever.”
The tragic loss means that Brian won’t be able to see his two grandchildren and Michelle’s daughters, Isabella, five, and Phoebe, two, grow up.
He was aged 67 when he died.
Whilst coping with her dad’s death, Michelle decided she would do something positive in his memory. She has chosen to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, which funds life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases, including heart attack and stroke.
Michelle’s fundraising activities will include scaling Scafell Pike with her colleagues from Santander’s Whitehaven branch. They will hold the event on June 8.
Michelle also plans to hold a bucket collection at Whitehaven RLFC’s home game against Batley Bulldogs on Saturday June 13.
Brian was an avid Haven fan and would be a regular visitor to the club’s Recreation Ground.
Brian was also a committee member for Hensingham ARLFC and the team have agreed to host a charity match against Kells in Brian’s memory and in aid of the BHF, on August 4.
And in further support of the charity, Michelle has also signed up to its MyMarathon challenge, where she will walk 26.2 miles over the month of June.
Money raised through Michelle’s activities will also be match-funded by Santander.
“I want to continue to make my dad proud and most importantly to raise funds for the incredible work of the BHF,” added Michelle, who is married to John.
“I’ve been blown away by the support I’ve had so far and I’m really grateful to my amazing employer and colleagues. It’s really inspiring knowing that the money I raise will help fund research that could benefit the lives of people impacted by heart and circulatory diseases.”
Emma Dickinson, the foundation’s fundraising manager, said: “It is touching that Michelle is turning her tragedy into something positive, and we are so grateful that she has chosen to fundraise for the BHF in Brian’s memory.
“We can only fund research to save and improve lives thanks to generous supporters like Michelle.
“In addition to the devastating health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial impact meant our funding for new research was halved last year, so the support of the public has simply never been more needed.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-lowery1