Bernie Hall-Matthews was living an idyllic life as a little boy with his family in Cooktown in the 1970s.
Until his mother took him to the local GP for a chest infection at the age of three and it was discovered he had an irregular heartbeat.
“After several years of monitoring, I had surgery at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane in March 1984 to correct a coarctation of my aorta,” Mr Hall-Matthews said.
“While the surgery was successful (I still have a large scar on my back that looks like a shark bite), numerous ECG’s, Xrays and visits to Cairns Hospital to see the visiting cardiologist from Brisbane were commonplace throughout my childhood and well into my teenage years,” he said.
“Even though my surgery was in Brisbane, Cairns Hospital is very close to my heart. I was lucky enough to be born there, I say lucky because my family was living in Cooktown at the time and my mother was driven down to Cairns via the coast road in an EH Holden just days before I was born.
“The care, skill and dedication by the numerous health professionals from my original diagnosis, surgery and after-care was outstanding and can never be repaid. However through this ride, I hope I can help raise awareness of the amazing and truly lifesaving work that the Cairns Hospital and in particular the cardiac ward does every day.”
Mr Hall-Matthews is saddling up for his second QSuper Cardiac Challenge, fundraising for cardiac services in FNQ. The annual bike ride organised by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation, proudly supported by QSuper – now part of Australian Retirement Trust, takes participants, their supporters and volunteers on a three-day cycling journey from Cairns to Cooktown. The 2022 ride will be the 16th time it has been held and the Foundation has been able to provide $5 million to improve cardiac services in that time.
Foundation CEO Gina Hogan said Mr Hall-Matthews experience was all too common.
“None of us know if we’re born with a heart condition we don’t know about or something develops as we age. Regardless of how it happens, we are passionate about doing what we can through this event, to improve health outcomes in FNQ,” Mrs Hogan said.
Australian Retirement Trust’s CEO Bernard Reilly said the super fund is proud to partner with the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation to deliver this event.
“As one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, it’s incredibly rewarding for us to support the QSuper Cardiac Challenge and help support such an important cause for Queenslanders,” Mr Reilly said.
To support Bernie’s fundraising visit: HERE
• The 2021 QSuper Cardiac Challenge raised a record $529,000 which resulted in the purchase of a $30,000 ventilator for cardiology, a $146,000 ultrasound for paediatric cardiology, detailed lung function testing and a hybrid bronchoscope valued at $275,000 for respiratory and a $25,000 body composition scanner for endocrinology. This year’s event will be held from September 17-19.
About the QSuper Cardiac Challenge
The QSuper Cardiac Challenge is an annual fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, hosted by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation. 2022 will be the 16th time the Cardiac Challenge bike ride has been held, with almost $5 million raised for cardiac services by the Foundation, in that time.
About Australian Retirement Trust
Australian Retirement Trust is the superannuation fund formed through the merger of Sunsuper and QSuper. It’s one of Australia’s largest super funds and proud to take care of over $200 billion in retirement savings for more than two million members. As a fund that works for members, not shareholders, Australian Retirement Trust works in members’ best interests, and is committed to returning profits to them as lower fees and better services.