West Ham Tonys help hit fundraising goal

Tony Preston; Tony Gale; Coral Preston; Tony Cottee, Karen Drum, Cardiac Rehab Sister; Donna Jessup, Cardiac Rehab Lead Sister

Tony Preston; Tony Gale; Coral Preston; Tony Cottee, Karen Drum, Cardiac Rehab Sister; Donna Jessup, Cardiac Rehab Lead Sister

First published in News Thurrock Gazette: Matt Abbott by , Chief Reporter

THREE Tonys - two of them West Ham United legends - have teamed up to raise £23,000 for Basildon Hospital’s heart centre.

The other Tony - Tony Preston, 48 - survived a heart attack while out in Spain two years ago and was determined to raise money for the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre.

In his mission he enlisted the help of Tony Cottee and Tony Gale, who wracked up 549 appearances between them for the east London club.

And at a celebration lunch, iorganised at the Stockbrook Manor in Billericay, the trio of Tony’s presented cardiac rehab staff with a £16,000 telemetry machine, which will monitor patients’ hearts while they are exercising.

The other £7,000 has also gone towards benefitting patients there.

Life-long West Ham fan Mr Preston, a self-employed builder and father of two sons from Brentwood, said: “I was lucky to get good treatment in hospital in Spain, where I had a stent fitted.

“But I came home feeling dreadful. I was used to being so fit and active, and suddenly I was unable to even walk upstairs.

“The team were fantastic.

“But like a lot of cardiac patients, when I was exercising I would be out of breath and sometimes get pains. I would be frightened that I was having another heart attack. You want to know right then and there that you are ok, not wait for a doctor to say you are fine.

“I asked the cardiac nurses if there was something that could give you that information and they said there was a machine, so I decided to raise the funds to buy one to help other patients.”

Cottee, 48, one of the most prolific goal scorers in English football history, told how his dad had a quadruple bypass at Basildon Hospital and his my mother had also been treated in the hospital too.

He said: “I am very familiar with the place.

“I have nothing but admiration for what the staff do and it is great to see how the money we helped raise has been spent.

“We do a lot of fund-raising, but you don’t always get the chance to follow it up and we are looking forward to helping more in the future.”

Gale, 54, now a Sky Sports pundit, said: “It’s really is a great facility in Basildon.”

He also joked: “Maybe it’s no coincidence that a lot of people here have a heart condition and they are also West Ham supporters!”

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