Published on 24 October 2019
A lifeboat crew member struck down by a rare neurological disorder officially started a fundraising challenge – from his hospital bed.
Steve Milne, Deputy Launch Authority at Walmer Lifeboat Station, spoke to supporters via video call at the start of a 24-hour fundraiser that raised £4,145 for the intensive care unit at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
More than 40 people rowed, ran and cycled for 24 hours for the event at the lifeboat station, dubbed Sweatin for Steve. Steve’s wife Denise and their daughters, Sarah and Jenny, officially closed the event by taking the final shifts on the equipment, and also kept him informed via video call of its progress.
Crew members Stephen Withers and Nicola Goodban, who organised the event with support from friends and family, said: “It was a fantastic event and we’re so pleased to have raised so much – and money is still coming in.
“We had some fantastic support from local businesses and the community.
"People’s generosity was mind-blowing. We had people coming in to the lifeboat station just to give us money, it was so touching.”
Steve was cared for in intensive care after developing Guillian Barre Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that has left him temporarily paralysed.It was a cruel twist of fate, as just weeks earlier he had finished stem cell treatment and chemotherapy for blood cancer – after retiring from working in the NHS for 43 years.
He is now recovering in a specialist hospital in Redhill, but hopes to be transferred back to Canterbury soon.
Steve’s wife Denise said: “His recovery is slow but he is doing really well and hopes to be back in Canterbury in the next few weeks.
“He has been overwhelmed by everyone’s support and was so sad to miss the event – as he said, it was his favourite things under one roof: cycling, running, rowing and beer.
“He loved being able to talk to his friends via the video call, and officially started the fundraiser and finished it at the end so he was able to say thank you to everyone.”
The event took place on 27 September and the money was handed over to East Kent Hospitals Charity’s intensive care fund last Friday.
Staff hope to use it to buy tablet devices that can stream television programmes, after Steve was desperate to watch the Wimbledon tennis championships and the Tour de France during his time in hospital.
Dee Neligan, fundraising and development officer at the charity, said: “The team did fantastically well, not only to keep running, rowing and cycling throughout the night but also to raise such a great amount for the intensive care unit.
“The money will really make a difference to our patients and we’re hugely grateful to everyone who supported the event.”
To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sweatingforsteve
For more information on supporting East Kent Hospitals Charity, see www.ekhcharity.org.uk