Here we are, nearly at the middle of July with the new season kicking off in only four weeks. Those of you that read my View from the South articles will know the enjoyment I get out of the build up to the match; the travelling to the game, the pre-match sights, sounds, smells and interaction with friends and other fellow fans I happen to meet along the way. Grabbing something to eat washed down with a beer or two is all part of the rich tradition of big sporting occasions especially the beautiful game of football. The feeling of the atmosphere building as we all trundle towards the game is something I never tire of and cannot be beaten in my view.
I’d like to introduce you to someone, who like many of us, would like to regularly attend St Andrews and experience that atmosphere but sadly no longer does. His name is Reggie and he has been an ever present at the hallowed ground for many years but in recent times hasn’t gone along. His reasons have nothing to do with the turmoil the club has gone through over the last three seasons; it has nothing to do with the owner issue, Mr Pannu, Lee Clark’s management or anything else of that type. It has nothing to do with Blues on or off the pitch; it has to do with the fact that Reggie has developed a leg ulcer.
Reggie is an otherwise fit man. He is in his early sixties, recently retired from his office job and looking forward to his retirement and perhaps even getting along to a few more away matches now that his work commitments are no longer the imperative. The ulcer started off as a tiny abrasion but rapidly became bigger and bigger until it became the size of a small saucer on the inside of his ankle. It has become so painful especially when he puts the foot to the floor that he can’t walk far. It is blighting his life, keeping him awake at night but the worst thing is that the ulcer weeps continuously striking through the dressings that the nurse at his GP’s practice puts on for him. Dressing changes are agony and are required frequently but within hours sometimes the weepy wound has soaked the dressing and the pungent smell that has become an unpleasant companion returns permeating through his home.
His poor wife, Iris breaks down in tears as she describes the misery and suffering of the husband she adores and to whom she has been married for over 35 years. Reggie is aware of the appalling odour coming off his leg and is reluctant to go out, meet up with mates, go to social functions, go the theatre, a restaurant, the cinema. The worst of all is that Reggie and Iris’ son and his wife have a little girl, their only grandchild whom he now rarely sees. Reggie dotes on the little one and melts when he sees her but in recent times the visits to Grandad have become almost nil. Reggie makes excuses to himself that his lad and his family have been busy recently and they haven’t been able to drop in but he knows deep down what the real reason is. Reggie sits morosely at home unable to do so many of the things he’d intended to do such as projects around the house, tending the garden, looking after the allotment and of course going down the Blues every week. Iris and their other two daughters are at the end of their tether.
There are many Reggies out there. Leg ulcers affect 650,000 people in the UK costing the NHS over £2 billion a year which brings me to my point. The fact is that Reggie and so many like him are curable. For those of you that don’t know, I am a surgeon and I specialise in varicose veins which are the main cause of leg ulcers and so I see people like Reggie nearly every week. I am a trustee of The Leg Ulcer Charity that is committed to raising money to fund research, to empower people like Reggie, educate doctors and nurses in the correct and effective management of this horrible disease and ultimately provide financial assistance to those in most need although that is a distant aspiration at the moment.
Leg ulcers ain’t sexy. When you look at it, we in the UK are some of the most generous and charitable people anywhere in the world. We readily donate in droves on Red Nose Day, to Great Ormond Street, to the building of a Hospice for the terminally ill, to the welfare of animals, Help the Heroes, Dr Barnardo’s, the Poppy Appeal, for the suffering of people in Syria, the starving of Africa and many more. The Leg Ulcer Charity struggles against all this established competition and the fact that leg ulcers are an unappealing subject. We have organised fund raising events and indeed have one coming up; on 5th September, a few intrepid souls including yours truly are jumping off the top of Guildford Cathedral and abseiling down the side.
We hope to have 40 people each raising a minimum of £400 do this. If anybody fancies a leap into the unknown please contact us on the Charity’s web site; http://www.legulcercharity.org/
I would be willing to bet that many of you reading this will know someone just like Reggie; a mother, sister, uncle, friend, workmate? One of the things that Reggie enjoyed when he went to the game was a pie and a pint before the match. I’d like to ask each and every one of you that is able to attend football and knows what that is like to donate the price of a pie and a pint to the Leg Ulcer Charity. You can do this either to support me as I abseil down the side of Guildford Cathedral or just simply donate on a personal level.
Please help if you can and let’s all help to get Reggie back down to St Andrews where he belongs on a Saturday afternoon.
Keep Right On