Clive and Sue met at Ashton under Lyne Fire Station in 1993 when Sue started work as a cleaner there. He attended many incidents, including fires, road accidents, and some strange rescues involving cows, horses and people - not necessarily at the same time! Some were horrific, some very sad, but some were also quite funny. He would do it all again if he was capable, but Clive was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in late 2009.
As his health deteriorated he was referred to Wythenshawe Hospital in 2017, and placed under the care of the wonderful Dr Nazia Chaudhuri and her team. They started the Tameside PF Support Group in 2018.
“We decided back in 2017/18 that we would only get through this if we did it together. It was going to affect us both - in different ways - so to go through it together might make it a bit more bearable.
“If you are lucky to have someone who you live with, or family who understand, then it’s important to let them know how difficult things might feel for you. Get the information and support to help you cope with each day.
“If you are not able to talk to a loved one for whatever reason, then find a Support Group or reach out to Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis. It is a place where people are going through what you are going through, a place where people understand.
You don’t have to explain anything, because they already know, and they know how to support and help you.
“It’s sometimes hard to think of the upsides of life with PF but one has to be meeting amazing people, and the friends we have made. We try to remain as positive as we can, even though some days can be very difficult. On those days we cry together, we hug, but most importantly, we talk.
In 2020 after four months of shielding, Clive felt he needed some motivation to exercise and keep himself fit without having to go outdoors. Bringing the treadmill down from the spare room was the first step then he talked with Sue about what he could do. Sue came up the with idea of the “Coast to Coast Walk”, 182 miles (293km) from the Irish to North Sea, albeit virtually.
The challenge was set, a huge one for Clive, but he says he has his mum to thank for his attitude of “there’s no such word as can’t”. His mum died last year, aged 91. He remembers her with fondness and for “her sheer guts and determination”. She left him with his positive and cheerful attitude to life:
if you’re going to do it, do it with enthusiasm
Clive ‘set off’ in March, completing a few kilometres each day. There followed a short, enforced break of around two weeks when he had what he describes as a “mini stroke” but he did not let that stop him from continuing the challenge. He recently completed this mammoth walk, with the same enthusiasm with which he started it. Encouraged by his friends and family, he used this as an opportunity to raise money for Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis. His final fundraising total is £1,000.
I will never miss an opportunity to raise awareness
This is one of many challenges the couple have taken onto raise funds but also awareness of pulmonary fibrosis. In February 2019 Clive and Sue started an around the world challenge” getting anyone and everyone to take a photo of themselves and a pulmonary fibrosis awareness poster at various locations around the world. Celebrity participants include Jenson Button, Anton du Beke and Sir Chris Hoy! They have in excess of 950 pictures to date with their ultimate goal to get a picture at the Nasa Space Station.
“Our personal hopes are just to get through each day together, and deal with whatever is thrown at us, but above all to enjoy our lives together, and keep talking.”
Thank you both for proving that no matter what challenges we face, we can all do something to make a difference.