zWalk Organiser & Winner Of Best Fancy Dress (Ladies) Cath Baker(Date of presentation; Thursday, October 22)
By Matt D’Arcy
Cath Baker has now presented Portimao Hospital with 26 new wheelchairs to be spread around the units of the hospital.

The donation valued at around €2,300 was the result of Cath’s Charity Bar Walk a month earlier by residents of Vale da Telha and the surrounding areas.
The walk—basically a 4km fancy dress pub crawl by just over 50 people from Arrifana to Vale da Telha—raised an awesome final total of €2,905.63.

And Cath and husband Peter, who won the ladies’ and mens’ categories in the Fancy Dress contest after the walk again donned—along with fellow organiser Steve Scott—their costumes to make the presentation to hospital staff.

The money raised was used to buy 25 new wheelchairs from the UK, with two other people inspired by the walk also donating a 26th wheelchair, and a walking frame which will be used by the orthopaedics unit. The donation also included 50 hot/cold gel packs for pain relief.
The presentation took place outside the hospital’s main entrance and the wheelchairs were received by Dr. Luisa Arez, Deputy Clinical Director and nurse Arsénio Gregório, representing the Director of Nursing.

Also present were representatives of the different units throughout the hospital that will benefit from the donation.

Amovate’s retired President Peter Johnson and Vale da Telha resident Antonio (Tony) Lopes were also there, having helped with the transportation of the wheelchairs from Cath’s home in Vale da Telha down to the hospital in their own vehicles.

The fundraiser, backed as usual by Amovate whose President John Bergstrom-Potter also handed over a cheque for €250 from the association before the trip to Portimao Hospital, was Cath’s own brainchild.

She explained that it was inspired by the charity pub crawls which were so popular back in her native Lancashire.

Four years ago another of her charity projects saw her raise the funds to buy nine new wheelchairs for the hospital’s orthopaedic department.

This time a visit to the oncology clinic prompted the bar walk. Cath made the presentation again wearing the “half-man, half-woman” costume that won her the Best Fancy Dress Outfit (Ladies) award following the walk. She was accompanied by her husband Peter, aka the JCB digger and driver (winner of the male category) and fellow organiser Steve Scott, dressed in his “Not The Naked Chef” costume.

Cath explained: “On my visit there I saw one lady in a terrible state after chemotherapy. She could barely stand and there was no wheelchair to get her to her car.
“It broke my heart and I just needed to do something.”

Charity Bar Walk Wheelchair Presentation October 22 2015 (2)Cath, who was also assisted in setting up the walk by Brian Jutsum, went on: “The idea was to take a serious cause, like raising funds for the hospital, but to add the fun element of dropping off at nine selected bars, having a sup or two and enjoying a little craic and banter.

“The bar owners all happily joined in, agreeing to make donations for each drink sold.
“One or two of the walkers, having taken on a little too much liquid refreshment along the way, were perhaps staggering a little at the finish.

“But at least they did so knowing that the money they have helped to raise will see some of the hospital’s infirm patients get around a little easier thanks to the wheelchairs we have been able to provide.

“That was well worth all the sore heads the following morning!”
The wheelchairs, all of which have been stamped “Donated by Vale da Telha Charity Bar Walkers”, were shipped from the UK by Algarve Removals who waived their €700 fee.

Cath declared: “Because of their fantastic generosity we now have €736.34 left over, which will be used to buy other equipment for the oncology unit. I have already bought a camera they asked for, and I will talk to the unit administrators to ascertain what else they need from the extra cash”.

Four of the wheelchairs, 20 gel packs and the digital camera were immediately earmarked for the oncology unit which first triggered the charity walk.

And following discussions with the hospital authorities 10 wheelchairs, a walker and 30 bags of gel will go to orthopaedics, six wheelchairs to Accident & Emergency and the final six to the outpatients unit.

A hospital spokesman told us: “We are overwhelmed by the generosity shown by Mrs Baker and the people of the Vale da Telha area. We were suffering from a serious shortage of wheelchairs and this amazing donation will benefit every unit in the hospital”.

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