BHF Cymru is celebrating the inspirational people from across Wales who’ve been nominated in the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards 2022.
The annual awards ceremony returns for a fifth year on Thursday 1st December. The charity will honour incredible young heart heroes who’ve shown remarkable bravery and gone above and beyond to help others while coping with the devastating impact of heart disease, as well as CPR lifesavers, innovative fundraisers, corporate partners, research champions and healthcare heroes working in the NHS.
Winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London, with Vernon Kay hosting for the fourth time. He’ll be joined by celebrity judges including footballing legend David Ginola and Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie.
Young Heart Hero Nominees
Jacob Marsh, 12, from Llantwit Major. Jacob was born with a hole in his heart and with a coarctation of the aorta. He had his coarctation repair at 11 weeks old and a scan revealed he also had a bicuspid valve, which is now being monitored. He ran 50km in February 2021 to raise money for BHF while he was shielding from Covid-19 and couldn’t return to school the same time as his friends. He raised approximately £800 for the BHF. Jacob’s dad Wayne said: “He recognises the role BHF played in his early treatment and ultimately his survival. As a family we’re proud that he made a conscious decision with his heart to raise money to help others like he was helped. Jacob battled through snow and hail to complete his challenge, taking on a 5km run nearly every other day for a month.”
Ollie Banks, 10, from Pontypool. Ollie has a congenital heart defect called Ebstein’s Anomaly which affects the tricuspid valve in the right side of the heart. He will require surgery to repair the faulty valve in the future. Ollie has raised over £1,000 for the BHF through 2022, taking part in Cardiff and Cardiff Bay Junior events. Ollie said: “My heart has a ‘glitch’ that is changing as I grow, and it means that I will need an operation to fix it. I support the British Heart Foundation because I want to help all the heart doctors learn new ways to fix broken hearts and be the best that they can be in helping children like me.” Ollie’s mum Kirsty said: “Ollie has put his heart and soul into raising this phenomenal amount for the BHF. His ambition to do something for the greater good and make a little difference has been inspirational.”
Noah Morgan, two, from Maesteg. Noah was born with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot, which means he had four heart defects which cause the oxygen-poor blood to be pumped to the body through the hole in the wall between the right and left ventricle instead of being pumped to the lungs. Noah had open heart surgery aged six months. His heart was fully repaired by surgeons at Bristol Hospital, but his mother Bethan remains concerned for his future. She said: “Noah will always have a heart condition. Whilst we are lucky that we have been able to fully repair his heart for now, we don’t know what he will need in the future. Noah is the happiest little human, he’s made our lives so complete, he’s our little hero.”
Lifesavers from across Wales nominated as CPR Heroes
For performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in a life-threatening emergency
Alun Sturley from Carmarthen who saved his father John.
Katherine Lyons from Newport saved her husband Mike.
Caitlin Whittall from Newtown, Powys who saved a customer at The Buck Inn where she works.
Jean Thomas from Carmarthen, saved her husband Michael.
South Wales Police Officers Quddus Miah and Chris Gillett, who saved members of the public.
Benjamin Hart from Usk, saved his wife Rebecca.
Healthcare Hero Nominees
Mandie Welch from South Wales. Mandie is based at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant. She has been a Heart Failure Nurse for a number of years and helped hundreds if not thousands of patients manage their condition. She works for Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board and has recently become Lead Nurse for the Cardiac Network and is the current Chair of the All Wales Heart Failure Nurse Group, engaging with heart failure nurses across Wales, to develop pathways, share good practice and reduce unwarranted inequity in heart failure care and management.
Dr Lena Izzat from Llanelli has supported BHF Cymru to raise awareness of the Heart Attack Gender Gap in Wales. As a female cardiologist she has spoken out about the unconscious and systemic bias in the health care system which leaves women who have heart attacks less likely to get diagnosed and receive the best care. Lena has been integral to a campaign which has secured a commitment from the Minister for Health to tackle health inequalities in Wales.
Corporate Partner Nominee
The staff at EE’s contact centre in Merthyr Tydfil have been nominated for their fundraising activities in memory of a much-loved colleague David (Dave) Vaughan who tragically died following a cardiac arrest at work in 2020. There is a memorial bench to their dear friend in the building’s reception area. General manager Allison McCarthy and Dave’s colleagues Sharon Palmer and Garry Morgan wanted to do something positive in Dave’s memory so decided to support the BHF as their charity of the year for 2021 and continued their support into 2022, raising over £10,000 to fund lifesaving research.
Innovative Fundraiser Nominees
Adam Harvey from Wrexham. Adam was born in 1989 with a congenital heart condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries, which was diagnosed when he was one day old. He has had treatment throughout his life and has always been grateful for research funded by the BHF into heart conditions. Despite his condition, for which he takes tablets daily and can leave him feeling very tired on physical exertion, he completed the Three Peaks Challenge in 2021. Unable to complete it in 24 hours, Adam covered the distance over a number of weeks. Once at the top, he proudly waved his BHF banner, raising awareness and over £1,500 in sponsorship.
Jeffrey and Sian Edwards from Milford Haven. Jeffrey has been diagnosed with heart failure and has had a pacemaker fitted. With his wife Sian, he has held the Bluestone Car Run in support of the BHF since 2011, and they have raised over £10,000. BHF Fundraising Manager for West Wales, Jayne Lewis, nominated the couple and said: “They are well liked and well known in the area, and people come to support them as they know about Jeff’s heart condition. Last year saw more participants than ever and so many people were so glad to be able to come and see Jeff and Sian. It was a wonderful event. We’re also grateful to the Haverfordwest and Narberth BHF branches for their support of these events.”
Mitch James from Flint. For the last 13 years, Mitch James has been supporting the BHF in memory of his cousin Paul, who was born with a heart condition called transposition of the great arteries. Paul underwent major surgeries at birth and at the age of six. Paul was a larger-than-life character who lived life to the full and his health challenges never held him back. A keen rugby player and much-loved member of the community, his infectious laughter would always bring a smile to many. After he sadly passed away in 2009 following a seizure at the age of 24, Mitch and Paul’s family at Mold Rugby Club set up Hoppo’s Hi 5s, to raise money in his memory, holding annual 5-a-side tournaments. Due to Covid-19, the last event had to be cancelled, but Mitch and his friends took on a massive three-day bike challenge from London to Mold, covering 220 miles and raising over £23,000 for the BHF.
With the sad passing of Paul’s brother, David in 2021 the group has decided to continue their cycling challenge and will complete a bike ride from Edinburgh to Mold Rugby club as their second leg of the four UK capitals to their much-loved rugby club, aiming to raise a total of £100,000.
Lisa Pudner from Llanelli is a former Paralympian who raised over £2,000 for the BHF through a sponsored handcycle and walking event in memory of her friend Nest Davies. Nest died suddenly from a heart attack. Lisa was awarded a BHF Cymru medal in recognition of her achievements and said: “We did this for the BHF because they fund research into heart and circulatory conditions, and we want to stop other families and friends losing loved ones in the future.”
Outstanding Contribution Nominee
Andrew Barnett from Cardiff was nominated in the Outstanding Contribution Category by Ben Clarke. Ben saved Andrew’s life when he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him after a cardiac arrest at a family five-a-side football match in 2018. Ben nominated Andrew because of the support he has given the BHF in raising awareness of the importance of learning CPR and registering public access defibrillators on The Circuit – the national defibrillator network. Andrew has also backed a campaign to encourage DVLA staff to choose BHF Cymru as their Charity of Choice.
Andrew said: “I am delighted and honoured to be considered for such an amazing award with so many incredible people that have all done so much to deserve the award. It’s been a huge privilege to support the many important areas the BHF is involved in, and I look forward to helping where I can in the future and help save more lives.”
Research Engagement Nominee
Professor Chris George is nominated for a Heart Hero Award in the Research Engagement category. The BHF is recognising his work at Swansea University in tailoring treatments for dangerous abnormal heart rhythms which could help reveal new ways to treat people with life-threatening arrhythmias. Chris is the Chair of the National Cardiovascular Research Network in Wales. He has worked with BHF Cymru to share information about the BHF-funded research taking place in Welsh universities, in an accessible and engaging way, to help the public understand the work which is possible thanks to their donations.
Head of BHF Cymru, Rhodri Thomas said: “The Heart Hero Awards are the highlight of our year, bringing together inspirational nominees from different walks of life and from every part of the UK. From fantastic children to remarkable pensioners, they all share such spirit and embody the very best of us.
“I’m proud and humbled that so many nominees are from Wales, and I’m delighted to have met several of them in person to thank them for the amazing support they give the BHF and the motivation they bring to myself and the whole BHF Cymru team.
“Whilst we celebrate these brilliant Heart Hero nominees, we also thank each of our brilliant BHF supporters who power our lifesaving science and bring new hope to the 7.6 million people across the UK living with conditions such as stroke, heart disease and vascular dementia.
“I’m in no doubt that their dedication and selflessness will mean more lives will be saved from heart and circulatory disease, so thank you and congratulations to all our inspirational nominees”.
The Heart Heroes Awards will be live-streamed at 8pm on Thursday 1st December. Register to watch the celebration online at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heartheroes