Last year, we welcomed our Sales Director, Kevin Mashford, to the Paramount family.
Having worked in the office design and commercial interiors sector in the Bristol and South West area for 20 years, Kevin brings a wealth of experience to the role.
While Kevin’s sales experience has helped us to secure some fantastic new projects, this blog is actually about an inspiring and more personal part of his life.
Living with heart disease
I was born with a rare condition, congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (CCGTA), and had my first operation when I was just 8 years old. Pulling through my first operation, I went on to take up karate and became a black belt by the time I was 17. Unfortunately, deteriorating health over the next 15 years meant that I had to give up any sporting activity and was in heart failure from my early twenties.
After a series of major operations, three pacemakers, suffering a stroke and at one point being read my last rites, in 2012, now married with two children, I was told that I needed a new heart.
A man named John
After a year of waiting on the donor list, I was admitted to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital to wait indefinitely for a donor heart to become available. At that stage, I had gone into multiple organ failure and was put on the super-urgent transplant list. I had been given less than six months to live when a suitable match was found on 4 May, 2013. Sadly, that match was because a man named John had died in a collision with a car while cycling. John’s family decided to donate his organs to help save others and I was one of those people.
When I discovered that my new heart came from someone who loved cycling, I asked my physiotherapists to bring an exercise bike into my room so that John’s heart could carry on doing what he had loved.
I cycled for seven minutes to represent the seven days of my new life with John’s gift. This was the start of my cycling story.
Team Mash 2015
After being discharged, I continued to cycle, completing a 30-mile charity cycle followed by a 50-mile cycle from London to Brighton a year later.
By now, I had set up the Transplant Association Charity and I wanted to create an event that would raise awareness for the need to register on the Organ Donor Register, provide funding for NHS nurse training and celebrate John’s memory.
In 2015, with a team of 50 riders, I completed the Team Mash ride; a 4-day, 342-mile cycle from Bristol to Newcastle.
I wrote John’s name in my cycle helmet to spur me on when things were difficult. I also received a message from John’s brother which really helped; “If anyone’s heart is going to get you over that finishing line in Newcastle it’s going to be his.”
The next chapter: Team Mash 2019
Now a father of three, I’m more appreciative than ever of the gift that John gave me.
After the success of the first event, I’ve decided to cycle the same route on 22 July 2019.
Now that I’m part of the Paramount team, they’ve kindly sponsored Team Mash 2019 and we’ve adapted the gym in Paramount’s ShowOffice into what I’ve renamed “the pain chamber”.
I’ll be spending sessions with Professor Greg Whyte from the Centre for Health Human Performance and, while there are going to be some difficult times during those four days, I’ve come to learn that nothing good comes easy and I’ve also learned to appreciate everything that life throws at me.
You can also help to support this amazing event and fantastic cause by either registering to join the ride or providing sponsorship.