THE sign held up by two-year-old Louie Ripley says it all: “Yoyo people!! 10 years ago to this very moment, my Daddy received a life-saving heart transplant. Without organ donation, my Daddy would have died. Without organ donation, my Daddy would not have married my Mummy. Without organ donation there would be no me. Please sign the organ donation register and save lives and awesome people like my Daddy. Love Louie.”

It’s ten years since Simon Ripley, 34, of Darlington, had a heart transplant and he is using the milestone to again bang the drum for organ donations. That’s why a picture of Louie, holding up his sign, was sent out on social media on the 10th anniversary of the operation that saved Simon’s life.

Indeed, 2018 will be remembered as a special year for Simon. With his donated heart pumping proudly, he celebrated his ten-year milestone by competing for Great Britain in the European Transplant Games and returned with a gold medal, two silvers and a bronze.

The gold came in the biathlon, combining a 20k cycle ride with a 1,500 metre run. The silvers were earned in the individual cycling and 1,500 metres events, and the bronze was landed in the cross-country run over four kilometres.

“The biathlon was the one I really wanted because it shows depth of what I can do,” said Simon, who won the 20k cycling gold at the last European championships.

“The 10th anniversary was always going to be special but winning gold made it extra-special,” he added.

All David knows about the donor of his heart was that he was called David, he was 18, he came from the Leeds area, and he died of a brain haemorrhage. When the operation was carried out at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Simon’s life was in the balance.

He’d had leukaemia as a child and kept on developing chest infections. In December 2007, the latest infection was more severe than usual – Simon was in the early stages of heart failure.

Simon, a mechanic, has written to David’s family, via the Heart and Lung Transplant Association, but they have chosen not to reply.

“Maybe it’s enough for them to know that they made a difference and that I’m doing OK,” said Simon.

He is, of course, doing much better than OK. Last August, he married Charlotte, mum to his youngest child, Louie. He also has Dylan, 12, from a previous relationship and step-daughter Ellie-Louise, nine.

At the wedding, at Walworth Castle, Simon made a toast to David, who gave him the chance of a new life when his own was lost.

“I think about him and his family a lot,” said Simon. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here – it’s as simple as that.”

So, he will go on competing for as long as possible, knowing that every medal he wins is another advertisement for organ donations.

In six weeks, he’ll be at the British Transplant Games in Birmingham, taking part in cycling, archery, shot putt and running. Next year, his aim is to be part of the GB team at the World Transplant Games on home turf in Newcastle and Gateshead.

There is, of course, no guarantee that he’ll make the team. In athletics terms, he admits he’s “getting on a bit”.

And that is the biggest triumph of all.

• To find out more about being an organ donor, go to

• Simon wishes to thank KLM Airlines, the Peel Group, and Buckley Recruitment for their support as sponsors.

FROM sporting achievement to sporting failure…

Regular readers may be aware that horse racing is one of my passions and that I was sacked as a tipster on my first paper, the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph.

These days, one of my great pleasures is working for Redcar Racecourse and I was host for the recent Ladies’ Day meeting.

H. Jarvis, who manufacture doors and windows, were one of the sponsors and they came up with a charity twist to mark their 140th anniversary. Somewhat recklessly in view of my track record, they placed £20 on each of my tips in the first seven races.

The result? Help For Heroes will be receiving a cheque for £189.

I hope the news reaches Scunthorpe.

MEANWHILE, the subject of misprints came up during last week’s talk to the Ripon branch of the U3A, prompting a memory from vice chairman Peter Manser.

In his younger days, Peter was an apprentice at the Metal Box company in Portslade, Sussex, when news came through of a disaster at the Portsmouth factory.

More than 30,000 Fairy Liquid bottles had been printed with the Royal coat of arms and the inscription: “By appointment to Her Majesty The Queer.”

Sud’s law, I suppose.

ALSO, at Ripon U3A, Barbara Dixon remembered the days when she worked in tele-sales at the Harrogate Advertiser and a woman wanted to advertise “A purple child’s bike.”

Sounds like a serious blood pressure problem to me.

LAST week’s column about my visit to the heritage railway line at Embsay, in the Yorkshire Dales, led to a call from Darlington councillor Chris McEwan.

Chris’s family took him to Embsay for a train ride on Father’s Day. Daughter Jessica had gone to the trouble of booking a table afterwards at the Elm Tree pub in the village. However, when they arrived, no booking had been made. Somehow, Jessica had made a reservation instead at the Elm Tree pub in Cambridge – 180 miles away.

HEADLINE of the week came on a story about a rat eating $27,500 of money after crawling into a hole-in-the-wall bank machine in Indian: “Vermin the money,” was sent in by “Sunderland Fan” on Twitter.

A triumph for a Sunderland fan. That really is against the odds.