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Braveheart Ben

27 February 2024 Ben now

Despite being born with a congenital heart defect and undergoing 5 open heart surgeries in childhood, 24-year-old Ben is now a half-marathon runner and has raised over £1000 for the cardiology ward at Glasgow Children's Hospital. This is his inspirational story.

I was born with Trunchus Arteriosis, a congenital heart defect that requires surgery from a young age.

Throughout my life, I have had ten operations, five of which were open heart.

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Pictured: Ben in Yorkhill children's hospital as a baby.

My first surgery was when I was very young, and from birth, Yorkhill Children's Hospital became like a second home to me, and the Doctors, Nurses, and all other staff became regular and trusted people in my life.

When the Royal Hospital for Children opened in 2015, I transferred there to Ward 1E, the cardiology ward.

Ben Shearer-Richards babyPictured: Ben in Yorkhill children's hospital as a baby.

'The hospital change could have been daunting, but thankfully those familiar faces from Yorkhill transferred over as well and I felt instantly at home there.'

I required four different surgeries within the first few years of the new hospital opening, which gave me time to get used to the new surroundings before transferring to Clydebank hospital, as I became an adult...apparently!

Thankfully, I’ve not required surgery since moving to the hospital in Clydebank, and long may that continue.

'When the time comes for more surgery, I know I’ll be in good hands.'

I started raising money for Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity in lockdown, running half marathons specifically to raise money for Ward 1E, the children's cardiology ward.

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Since 2020, I am proud to say I have raised over £1000 to help support other young cardiac patients like myself.

This year, I am fundraising for the charity by running the Edinburgh half marathon in May.

Transferring away from Ward 1E to an adult ward made me appreciate just how special the staff in the children's hospital are and how positive my experience was as a young patient there.

'I always felt cared for and had a smile on my face, no matter what physical condition I was in.'

I consider myself lucky to be able to live an active life, despite the physical setbacks I’ve faced.

I’ve always been able to play sports, went to uni to study sports, and now work full time in the football industry.

A huge part of me running through lockdown was to fight stigmas surrounding heart conditions and exercise, and what better to disprove those stigmas than long distance running!

Rasing money for charity is a huge bonus, and of course a motivating factor.

The main motivator for me though is to hopefully inspire those with heart conditions to be active and hold no physical limitations over themselves.

'I want children on Ward 1E, and wherever else, to hear my story and think, some day I’m going to push myself to do something great!' 


There’s always going to be nerves when doing a challenge such as a half marathon, and I’m trying to keep telling myself, ‘You’ve done it before, you can do it again’.

When I ran half marathons through lockdown, that was my sole 100% focus, and it became a bit of an obsession.

This time round, I have life to fit around training, which I’ve only just started however I’ll up the tempo in the coming months and come the end of May, I’ll be fine!

I’m not setting myself a time challenge like I have before.

I love running in this form because you’re not competing against anyone, it’s just yourself and whatever pace you're able to maintain is the right pace.

'There’s no too fast, or too slow, it's just about crossing the finish line, and that’s a philosophy that I’ve always had in hospital.'

There have been times when walking ten steps post-surgery is a challenge, but I always know I’ll get stronger and build myself back up. It’s all about doing what you’re able to do at any given time.