Liverpool star David Fairclough marks ten years of fundraising for hospital which treated his wife

Exclusive report by Granada Reports' Victoria Grimes

A Liverpool FC legend is fundraising for a revolutionary simulator to train neurosurgeons.

David Fairclough has been supporting city's Walton Centre for 10 years since losing his wife who was treated there.

The device would be the first one in the UK

In the decade since he lost his beloved wife Jan, former Liverpool player David Fairclough and his family have raised more than £400,000 for The Walton Centre.

Jan was treated at the hospital following a brain aneurysm. Doctors there were unable to save her, but David and his family have never forgotten how much they helped them through the darkest moment of their lives.

Jan Fairclough

And now ten years on, they have spoken exclusively to Granada Reports presenter Victoria Grimes about Jan's legacy and how they hope the next generation will continue the fundraIsing.

David says that helping the Walton Centre has become an important part of their lives and he is proud to be associated with such a centre of excellence:

The Faircloughs initially set out to raise enough money to build a 'Home from Home'- where patient's relatives could find some respite, a cup of tea and a warm bed, whilst staying close to their loved ones in the hospital.

The Home From Home project was completed in 2016 and has since helped hundreds of relatives. David is a regular visitor and spends time with staff and patients when he can.

His son Tom explains: "When my mum was here, we were sleeping on chairs in waiting rooms, our heads on tables, but we were lucky that we had the hospital on our doorstep and so we could get home easily and back again."

"People come from all over the UK for treatment here, some from hundreds of miles away, so their families can't just nip home.

"They need somewhere they can stay and rest and and have a little time to forget what they are going through.''

The Fairclough family at the Home From Home, where a room is named after them. Credit: Walton Centre Charity

Training the next generation of Neurosurgeons

The family are now fundraising for a specialist training tool to help develop the next generation of Neurosurgeons.

The Neuro Virtual Reality simulator is a revolutionary piece of equipment, and although widely used in specialist centres in the US and Canada, it would be the first of its kind in the UK.

The device will help to train surgeons in various brain surgery technique. Credit: CAE Healthcare

So far, £73,000 has been raised from the annual Jan Fairclough Ball. The device costs £130,000.

The simulator tool will enable experienced surgeons at The Walton Centre to develop the very latest techniques, taking their skills even further, and allow trainee surgeons to practice safely, yet in a realistic environment.

The device would also be used to train surgeons across the North West, and will ultimately benefit thousands of patients across the UK.

The Neuro VR is said to be the world’s most advanced virtual reality neurosurgery simulator. Credit: CAE Healthcare

Mr Nicholas Carleton-Bland, Consultant Neurosurgeon and lead in medical education says that the simulator will be game-changing:

The tool will bring simulated training to a new level, enabling surgeons to:

  • See lifelike renderings of brain tissue, blood vessels and tumours

  • Hear realistic sounds from instruments

  • Feel tactile feedback and resistance

The Faircloughs say they will continue fundraising for The Walton Centre, and hope the Jan Fairclough Ball will still be going strong in the future, although it may eventually be down to the next generation: David's grandchildren Teddy, three, and Summer and Lily, who are both one.

Credit: Fairclough family

"It's funny to think it might be them running it in a few years time" said Tom.

In the meantime, David is enjoying the role of his life - grandad.

David's relishing his role as grandad to Teddy, Summer and Lily. Credit: Fairclough family

Find out more about the Walton Centre Neuro VR fundraising here