Help Eugene’s drive to fund raise for NUJ Extra
2 October 2018
When I picked up my friend, freelance NUJ member Eugene Costello from St Barts Hospital, he looked terrible. His face was grey, clothes hung from his diminished frame and his few possessions filled a plastic supermarket bag. He had been in hospital for four weeks after a massive heart attack, a stroke and the discovery of a blood clot in his brain.
Only during the second half of his hospital stay had been conscious and off life support, but during that time he had been informally offered support by NUJ Extra.
He climbed in the car, we hugged and Eugene cried before we pulled away in the direction of Walthamstowe. St Barts was scarcely out of my rear-view mirror, however, when Eugene turned to me and said: “As soon as I am better I am going to dedicate myself to fund-raising for the charities that have helped me. You won’t believe the energy I will put into this." I encouraged him to concentrate on convalescence.
He has taken it fairly easy in the three weeks since I took him home – but I now learn that he has been hatching an ambitious plan to raise funds just as he promised. In January he intends to spend a month, driving over 4,000 miles to Timbuktu in Mali to raise money for NUJ Extra and two other charities.
It is an extraordinarily ambitious, not to say dangerous plan. Eugene and fellow journalist Nick Redmayne will cross the Pyranees, the Sahara and Senegal. They promise podcasts from along the way. On arrival their vehicle will be donated to the Eden Medical Centre in Dinfara.
It is a crazy scheme, but perhaps so close a brush with death demands a radical response? It certainly deserves our support, whether you know Eugene or not. Hundreds of members with very genuine needs rely on NUJ Extra every year. Any support that you are able to give will make a real difference to others who make their living in our challenging profession and who have experienced some kind of unmanageable difficulties. If you are able, it is a cause that merits the widest possible support.