Ex Liverpool FC striker Emile Heskey has sent a personal video message of support to a fundraiser with autism and Down’s Syndrome who has raised over £5,000 for the NHS.
In the video message, Emile Heskey who played 223 games for the reds between 2000 and 2004, scoring 60 goals, offered words of encouragement to Helen Williams, telling her to “keep up the good work”.
Helen, 41, from Bowdon in Altrincham, is following in Captain Tom Moore’s footsteps and has so far raised over £5,000 by walking 21,000 steps in 21 days for NHS Charities Together.
On her fundraising page, she says: "My friend David, who also has Down's Syndrome, has Coronavirus and is on a ventilator in intensive care. I want to say thank you to the NHS for looking after him and raise awareness for people with learning disabilities.”
Helen is on day 18 of her challenge to walk her 21,000 steps from home and has already passed her £5,000 fundraising target.
Helen said she will be walking the steps tomorrow for her sister Felicity who is a GP and “will be working hard in the out of hours tonight”
She said: “[Tuesday] is for Felicity and everyone at Primary Care 24. I'll be walking to Gerry & The Pacemakers ‘You'll never walk alone’ for you all.”
Helen lives with her younger sister, local GP, Felicity Blain, her brother-in-law, headteacher, Simon, and their four daughters.
Felicity said: "Helen came to live with us in 2017. She had previously spent 19 years in care homes – 17 in one in Somerset.
"It became clear that the care home she was in was no longer suitable. She was unhappy there.
“I was pregnant with my fourth child, and, against the advice of some, we decided Helen should move in with us. She is so much better now."
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The sisters were raised in London, but Felicity settled in the Altrincham area after studying at the University of Manchester.
Helen normally attends daycare centres five days a week and goes horse riding once a week but she hasn’t been able to since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown began last month.
Felicity said: "Helen likes routine and without it, she was struggling. She misses it. I said quite flippantly to her 'what are we going to do now'. I suggested she check her Fitbit and walk around the garden."
That, together with news of an old friend of Helen's contracting COVID-19, was the seed for the sisters creating a walking challenge.
On April 17, Helen began her walking 21,000 steps a day around her sister's home and garden. She will do it every day until May 7.
Felicity Said: "Helen is obsessed with numbers and this challenge helps to give her a focus.”
"We also hope that Helen's fundraising helps to raise awareness of the problems faced by people with special needs during the current crisis.”
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Helen walks up 12,000 steps before lunch and then continue in the afternoon until she hits 21,000.
She does it to the sound of her favourite music, including ABBA, The Beatles, S Club 7, and Take That – often spurred on by her nieces, Grace, nine, Bethan, seven, Eve, five, and Poppy, two.
So far, Helen has received personal video messages from Ex-Liverpool player Emile Heskey and current Manchester United midfielder, Scott McTominay, encouraging her to keep going.