Jonathan Stretton-Downes

Jonathan and David - Six Times Open

Jonathan, 29, has just undergone his sixth heart surgery. Yes, sixth. A group of Jonathan’s supporters are taking part this year in the BHF’s 42nd London to Brighton Bike Ride. The team will be riding under the banner of Six Times Open, a campaign started by Jonathan and his twin brother David. Over the past year, the brothers travelled across the UK raising funds and awareness as ambassadors for the British Heart Foundation. Here’s Jonathan’s story in his words.

It’s great to be part of the London to Brighton bike ride to help raise awareness and funds for such amazing research.

 

I was ten days old when I had my first heart operation. My parents were given a 50-50 chance I’d survive. This was the start of a big journey.

I was born with a hole in the heart and I also had a problem with one of my heart valves.

There have been some really close calls over the years. I’ve battled heart failure, emergency surgery and serious infections. Each time, though, with great medical support and my amazing family always by my side, I’ve pulled through.

In December 2017, I had my sixth heart surgery. The operation was a success and the support I’ve received from friends, family and the online community has been amazing.

In the lead up to the operation, my twin brother – who’s five minutes older – and I drove the length of the UK, from John O Groats to Lands’ End, in a classic ‘93 Peugeot 205. (We called the car Linda.) The aim of the trip was to raise awareness and funds for the BHF’s research, and also to inspire others who are going through similar health challenges. 

This was one of several fundraising activities we’ve done over the past year through our Six Times Open campaign, named in acknowledgement of my six heart surgeries. We tackled the National Three Peaks Challenge and organised a flash mob at Piccadilly Circus before a public (and live-streamed) head shave!

I’m now recovering well from my recent operation. And I know first-hand how much difference BHF research makes to save and improve lives. It’s great to be part of the London to Brighton bike ride to help raise awareness and funds for such amazing research.

And as the days count down to the bike ride, all I can say is, the Six Times Open team is ready!

Learn more here about Jonathan and David and their campaign Six Times Open

To help us fund our vital research, take part in the London to Brighton Bike Ride 2019. Together, we will beat heartbreak forever. 

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