Our charity, Superhero Foundation, was recently put up for an award for The Sun Newspaper for the best health charity, and I was kindly invited along to the award ceremony, called Who Cares Wins.
The Sun also invited my friend Captain Armless – also known as Alex Paterson (though I prefer his Superhero name!) and his lovely wife Paula.
A few years ago, Captain Armless got in touch with the charity and I felt the need to help him.
When he was 18 years old, he had been in a motorbike accident which resulted in him having to have his arm amputated. In the years that followed he suffered awful phantom pains and was having to take strong painkillers.
Captain Armless started a pioneering NHS treatment available called targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR), which aimed to control the phantom limb pains.
After that, he discovered a radical treatment called osseointegration (not available on the NHS) which could not only rewire his arm and keep him free from phantom pains, but would also give him a new bionic arm! With muscular innervation treatment, Captain would be able to control his new arm with his mind, which is INCREDIBLE.
With our support, Captain Armless raised more than £40,000 to be able to have the treatment. The operation was hugely successful, due to the amazing help of Dorset Orthopaedic, Dr. Norbert Kang and the whole team from Relimb at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
He is now the proud owner of a bionic arm and is no longer in pain. He struts his stuff more confident than robocop.
So, Captain Armless, Paula and I travelled down to London looking our dapper-selves (yes, that’s a word!):
The awards ceremony was held at the News building. On our arrival, there was a red carpet, and there we were at the top of a skyscraper overlooking the bright lights of London. Within minutes, we were handed champagne, and eating fancy goats cheese canapés – it was all very posh.
Whilst we were enjoying all of this, ITV’s biggest tv presenter Lorraine Kelly walked in! I’ve met Lorraine a couple of times, though Paula is one of her biggest fans, and squealed with excitement saying, ’look, that’s flipping Lorraine Kelly, right there!’
Then, one after another star after star was walking in – Chris Evans, The Loose Women, even Curtis from Love Island (yes, I watched it okay, you now have my dirty secret!).
Paula couldn’t contain herself any longer; she said to me ‘Get your phone out ready – I’m going in!’ and walked straight over to Lorraine just as she was about to have her professional press photo shoot with all the Loose Women. I watched her say, ‘Hi Lorraine, I’d love a picture’. Seconds later, she was arm in arm with Lorraine just as the cameras all started clicking – you know, doing that flashing thing – I could just see the headlines now – ‘who is this new mystery Loose Woman?’
After all the celebs (and non-celebs!) had had their pictures taken on the red carpet, we all sat down for dinner.
Chris Evans was the guest speaker and led a night celebrating NHS heroes; he got the audience interacting with a great game of A-Z of NHS related words which was great fun! Of course, when he got to the letter S, I just couldn’t help myself – I shouted out ‘SPERM!’ (seriously, it was the first thing that popped into my brain) – Chris looked at me and said ‘Is that the only word you’re going to use?! Brilliant, yes, just SPERM!’
As a motivational speaker myself, I really appreciated his ability to interact with the audience. I believe that nobody is ‘famous’ for no reason; it’s people like Chris that are influencing the world on a bigger scale because he’s super talented at what he does.
After Chris’ fun, we settled into the night and started to hear about the many heroes in the room.
Story after story went by, I must say I had a lump in my throat on a few occasions. When we were up for the ‘best health charity’, weirdly I didn’t have any emotional attachment to winning. I can tell you, that’s really not the case in normal situations when it comes to competition. When I was a kid I once pulled a small lump of hair out of a girls head who beat me at the egg and spoon race.
Anyhow, this was very different, we were up against an incredible individual and charity, The Matt Hampson Foundation.
As Lorraine Kelly announced ‘and the winner is, The Matt Hampson Foundation.’ I actually felt overwhelmingly happy with the result going to someone else.
For those who don’t know who Matt Hampson is, he was a promising English rugby star who became tetraplegic after a freak accident, a scrum collapsed and dislocated his neck severing his spinal cord. He is in a wheelchair for life and has very little ability to move at all. He now has a charity helping others in the same situation. As I said, it was only right that he received the award; he is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met, and he runs a charity despite what life has thrown at him.
After all the awards was given out, even the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was there to give a speech. He gave a speech about hurting his knee as a child and needing the help of the NHS – I don’t know what people’s political views are, but he made me laugh out loud, and he did say, ‘we have one of the best medical care systems in the world’ and for that, as someone that’s cycled around the world in some of the poorest countries, I agreed with him, big time.
Towards the end of the night, Captain Armless got on very well with Doctor Hilary from ITV, who was absolutely fascinated by the Captain’s arm – and even invited him onto the show!
As the night came to a close, Paula and I had fuzzy heads from too much wine but hey ho, you still have to celebrate being a finalist!
A huge thank you to Emma Pietras for organising such a brilliant event.
Even though we didn’t win, we have some really exciting things to come at Superhero Foundation. Captain Armless is becoming a superhero mentor, to help out others in similar situations to him. All in all, it was just a great night out and a fantastic experience for me to bond with Captain and Paula as a couple. True human connection – that’s what life is all about.
If you’d like to know more about the work that we do at Superhero Foundation, or if you’d like to donate, visit: https://www.superherofoundation.org
Enjoyed the blog? Would like to share? Please do! The more people that hear about my story and Superhero Foundation, the more sick kids lives we can help. Let’s keep making a difference, together.