JUST 12 months after heart surgery, Simon Finlay has marked the milestone by running a half marathon in aid of the hospital that saved his life.

It was during screening for a hereditary heart condition his dad has that Simon was diagnosed with a bicuspid valve. Unbeknown to him he’d had the congenital heart defect from birth. Further tests then revealed he also had an aortic aneurysm.

“My jaw hit the table,” Simon said as he recalled the second diagnosis.

Over the course of 18 months the aneurysm grew, and surgical intervention was required.

Simon, development director at Castle Green Homes, said. “I’d thought the bicuspid valve wouldn’t need surgery until I was in my 60s, so when I went for a CT scan and they showed me what the aneurysm looked like and how much it had grown it was a shock.  I understood that I couldn’t live without surgery and that I was in the best hands with Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.”

Simon underwent major heart surgery in March last year at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, days before his 46th birthday. Complications during his recovery meant he was readmitted and underwent further surgery to remove a build up of fluid around his heart.

“I felt like I was back at square one, but in the weeks that followed I picked up and was getting stronger and walking more,” he said.

He returned to work just 13 weeks post-surgery. Soon after, Simon decided he’d run the Liverpool Half Marathon in aid of the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital on March 17 – his 47th birthday.

By October he’d managed to complete a run 5km without walking.

“Coming from a construction background where we work collaboratively as a team, it was interesting to see the different job roles in the hospital coming together to care for me and the other patients,” Simon, from Meols, Wirral, explained.

“It’s because of what I have been through, the time I have spent at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, experiencing firsthand the miraculous work they do and feeling the love and support from all parts of that amazing hospital that I decided to raise money for the charity,”.

With the support of Castle Green, family and friends, Simon has raised well over his £1,000 target, with more than £3,700 donated to date.

He was joined in the Liverpool Half Marathon by Castle Green colleagues Sam Payne, Sean McBride, Phoebe Hughes and Paul Winrow.

“Castle Green Homes have been fantastic through all aspects of my surgery and recovery, no more so than [chief executive] Gwyn Jones,” Simon added. “Not only was he understanding and empathetic about my situation when I was diagnosed, he also gave me the time I needed to recover with no pressure. When I saw that Castle Green had doubled the funds raised on the Friday before the run with a donation of £1,500 I couldn’t believe it. I was totally blown away!”

Simon completed the Liverpool Half Marathon in 2:13:19. He is already working on bringing his time down ahead of the Chester Half Marathon in May.

Simon said he’d always been a runner but had struggled with a knee injury in recent years.

“I’m fitter now and running better 5km times than I was prior to my surgery, which is purely down to the amount of running I am doing as opposed to the surgery itself,” he said.

Castle Green chief executive Gwyn Jones said: “Simon is a valued member of the team and has shown the same strength of character and determination in handling his health issues as he does in overcoming challenges at work. We were pleased to be able to support his return to work and his fundraising. It’s great to see so many colleagues and contacts have also supported his fundraising.”

To support Simon’s fundraising go to https://www.justgiving.com/page/simon-finlay-1708724419345.