Dad’s message to would-be donors

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A TIRELESS fundraiser whose wife and eldest daughter died as a result of a car accident has urged people to talk openly about organ donations.

Ian Richardson, 40, is engaged in another hectic year of charity fundraising which began when his wife Joanne, 40, and eldest daughter Mya, aged six, died in an accident in August 2010.

He and his youngest daughter, Ava, now aged two, survived the accident.

Since then, Ian has battled to help children who have lost loved ones by setting up a charity called the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund, which supports bereaved children and families affected by death and terminal illness.

Another reason for his charity work is that Mya gave the gift of life to others after her organs went to children waiting for transplants.

Ian, from Billingham, and who runs an online retail firm on the Queens Meadow Business Park, in Hartlepool, said: “Five organs were donated and five families got to see Christmas together.”

He said the decision to agree the donation was made easier after he and Joanne had a conversation on the issue three weeks before the accident.

“Joanne and I had both been on the register since we were 16 and I still have my original card somewhere.

“After having Ava, we said to ourselves ‘that is our family complete’ and we started thinking we had life but things can change.”

He said he and Joanne had a conversation about organ donations if either of them died.

He added: “We had an open conversation and it seemed a strange conversation to manifest itself, but it could not have been more apt.

“When push comes to shove, if you are faced with that dilemma, it is one of the hardest decisions you have to make.

“No-one wants to face it, but at that moment, you don’t want to second guess what Jo’s wishes would have been.”

He said the conversation they’d had weeks before “made a hard decision easier”.

Ian urged other people to not only sign the register, but also to talk openly with their families about their wishes.

Ian, who won an Award For Inspiration in the Mail’s first Pride of Hartlepool Awards in March, 2011, is now immersed in another year of fundraising for the memorial fund.

On the cards are a climb up Ben Nevis and a 19,340ft trek to the top of Kilimanjaro planned for later this year.

There is also a celebrity football match on July 29 in Billingham, a celebrity darts night on Thursday, March 28, at The Swan, in Billingham and a tattoo convention later this year.

In the meantime, anyone wanting to find out more about the memorial fund should visit www.joandmya.co.uk

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