Ben Bowers, 37, from Hemingbrough, is now almost three-quarters of the way through his whisky-tasting marathon, and is calling on Wine & Dine Yorkshire readers to help push him towards his £5,000 fundraising target for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF).
The charity supports the Congenital Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary, providing vital emotional and financial support to families, and helping with essential funding for medical equipment, ongoing research and facilities.
Ben decided to set himself the challenge of tasting and reviewing a different whisky each day for 366 days after being moved by the bravery of his daughter Kairi’s best friend, Vaughn Pearce-Storm. Both children are pupils at Hemingbrough Community Primary School.
Six-year-old Vaughn has congenital heart problems and has already undergone numerous major operations. He will continue to require surgery as he grows and has benefited hugely from the CHSF.
Ben’s ‘A Dram A Day’ mission, which began on Burn’s Night, has attracted samples for review from whisky fans, suppliers and distributors around the world, including Luxembourg and the US. He now has enough 25ml samples (each the equivalent of 1 unit of alcohol) to see him through to the end of the challenge in January.
Every evening Ben samples a new dram, reviews it on video and then uploads the clip to YouTube. Each clip is around 10 minutes long and provides background history and anecdotes on the whisky. Ben certainly has the experience needed to talk knowledgeably on the topic, he managed The Whisky Shop on Coppergate in York for five years.
He told Wine & Dine Yorkshire: “Sourcing 366 different samples has turned out to be a little easier than I’d envisaged due to people’s interest and generosity, so now I can focus on fundraising and reaching my target. The CHSF is a fantastic charity that has helped Vaughn immeasurably and I would love to play my part in giving something back.
“Vaughn was born with a hole in his heart and he will need a complete valve replacement when he is big enough. He has endured numerous operations, and his bravery, alongside that of his parents Rebecca and Simeon, is inspirational.”
Vaughn’s mum, Rebecca Storm, told us:
“Vaughn has undergone four major heart operations to date, the first when he was only five days old and he faces further surgery in the future. The CHSF has been there for us as a family through some dark times, and challenges such as Ben’s highlight the work they do and help raise much-needed funds for everything from ward equipment to ongoing research. Everyone who helps the CHSF is allowing children such as Vaughn to enjoy a normal life.”
Looking ahead, Ben will be juggling his mission with the birth of his third child, due in October. He hopes to upload his 366th and final review on January 24, 2017, and is planning a fundraiser and auction to thank everyone who has donated and contributed to the challenge.
Ben said: “Every day when I see Vaughn at school I’m reminded of why I’m doing this, and I would be extremely grateful for donations, however large or small. Every little bit really does help.”
A Dram A Day can be followed on Facebook www.facebook.com/adramaday and the videos can be viewed at www.youtube.com/adramaday36.
If you would like to make a donation to A Dram A Day, please visit www.justgiving.com/adramaday