Ron Flewett (54) was diagnosed as having idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2014.
The disease causes a gradual scarring of the lungs, and has been on the rise in the UK for decades and now kills over 5,000 people a year. However, awareness remains low, and there is no known cause or cure. As a result, the disease acts with often devastating speed: barely half of people diagnosed with IPF are still alive three years later.
Ron said: “I was diagnosed with IPF in 2014. I was only 53, had never smoked and had always been a healthy and active man. My diagnosis came as a complete shock. I’d been looking forward to enjoying my retirement in a few years’ time, but now my life has been flipped on its head.”
Since the diagnosis Ron has been a relentless campaigner and fundraiser for the British Lung Foundation (BLF). He has met ministers in Westminster and in Brussels on behalf of the BLF. With others, he is calling for more research and support for IPF patients and their families.
Activities during this week’s IPF Week include sharing stories and photos on social media, holding awareness stands, and taking part in fundraising challenges.
Ron used to be an amateur triathlete and so this year took on the ‘Triath-A-Ron’ – including a half marathon walk (he is no longer able to run), 2.1km swim and finally the 100-mile long RideLondon.
The final challenge, and several bouts of cramp due to low oxygen levels in his bloodstream, finally beat him.
The Spalding Butchers’ Association, having heard of Ron’s situation, is dedicating this year’s annual ball to assist in raising awareness and funds for the BLF.
It is being held in Spalding on November 7 (7pm) – tickets must be bought in advance. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1392896241038392/