A HEREFORD dad who recently underwent major heart surgery has found the best medicine in his football-loving daughter.

Lorry driver Stephen Millward underwent a four-hour operation at BMI Priory Hospital in Birmingham in September 2013, during which his heart was stopped for 80 minutes.

But the 63-year-old from Belmont Avenue is now in training to get back on the touchline to cheer on his 21-year-old daughter Jade, who plays Downs Syndrome football.

“She certainly cheered me on all the way since my operation,” said Stephen, “Now I’ve set myself a New Year target of getting out there to do some cheering for Jade.”

Stephen’s operation was led by consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Tim Graham. He needed an aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass.

Mr Graham said: “Stephen is relatively young to need such an operation but he responded very well and is now making a great recovery. It was a tough time for him and his family, but I think Jade might have had something to do with him always having a smile on his face.

“She would come in and cheer everyone up, not just her dad, and I think she’s proved a very powerful medicine in helping Stephen get back on his feet.”

Now Stephen – who also has a son, Jason, and daughter Rachel – is working hard on his physiotherapy treatment as he tries to rebuild both his co-ordination and stamina.

He hopes to be able to cheer on Jade as soon as possible.

He said: “I had tremendous support from my wife Marlene and all my family, but it was Jade who captured the hearts of everyone at the hospital – especially Mr Graham.

“She attended all my pre-op appointments and was there when I came out of the operation. She was always laughing and joking with the nurses and became a real favourite with everyone.

“She loves her football and I love watching her play so, when things get a bit tough, I concentrate on getting fit again so I’ll be able to be to get out there and give her a big cheer.

“She keeps you on your toes – she’s so cheerful and happy and inspires you to do things. We love watching all the kids and in recent years have been across the country to watch games.”