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Credit union helps launch Bob’s return to a better life

A WHITEHAVEN father who lost two of his children has spoken of how volunteering for the local Credit Union has helped turned his life around.

looking to the future: Bob Wood at Whitehaven and Egremont District Credit Union

Bob Wood, of Rudd’s Court, moved to the town five years ago to live on a boat while grieving the death of his 22-year-old son, Brendan, who suffered from cardiomyopathy.

“He had inherited the condition from my wife who needed a heart transplant at 50,’’ Bob explained.

The couple’s children were subsequently tested and Brendan’s condition, which is a heart muscle disease, was discovered.

“At 15 he was told to take it easy,’’ Bob said, “but he was very active.’’

Brendan caught an infection and his only option was a heart transplant.

The family searched desperately across Europe for a match.

“They found two small hearts but they weren’t big enough for him,’’ Bob said. Brendan subsequently died in 2005.

Bob, who had also gone through a divorce, had previously lost his nine-month-old daughter, Charlotte, to an infection. “Looking back I believe Charlotte had probably also suffered from cardiomyopathy.”

The deaths of his children and the divorce devastated him.

He describes living on the boat, during harsh winters, overwhelmed by his bereavement. “I didn’t care whether I lived,’’ he explained. “I just wanted to be on my own.’’

Eventually, the boat became very damp and he moved into a flat in the town centre. “I had got in debt,’’ he explained. “When I was married, my wife sorted all the money and I went to work.

“I realised I needed to learn to save so joined Whitehaven Credit Union,’’ he said. “I became a volunteer and started to rebuild my confidence.

“I gained back control of my life, which helped me, and by volunteering at the Credit Union I was also socialising again, instead of trying to be on own.’’

Bob had worked on boats since he was 12 with his father, and had been an apprentice sail-maker making sails for Thames barges.

A keen handyman, he began building a model remote control boat. “I am an obsessive,’’ Bob admitted. “So building this boat absorbed me and I would be up until 3am working on it, adding extra details.’’

The boat will now be used to help highlight Credit Union Awareness week (Love your Credit Union, February 11-15).

Bob’s boat, named Union Volunteer, will by launched by Copeland’s mayor, Peter Tyson, at the harbour slipway on January 30 at 3.30pm.

“I’m proud of the boat,’’ Bob said, “and would like to thank those who help me, including Vivy Lees, Haven Crafts and Ink Design.’’

He is also planning to photograph the boat, which he has tested on Longlands Lake, at locations across Copeland for a Credit Union calendar.

Bob, who also a daughter Esme, said: “I keep going,’’ he said. “While I will always remember the day Brendan died, I now celebrate the good times such as his birthday.’’

Have your say

What a fine man.

Posted by DarthVader on 25 January 2013 at 14:24

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