The British Heart Foundation is a charity of which I’m sure almost everyone living in the UK must have heard.
You have likely popped into one of their shops with anticipation at what trinkets or interesting items of clothing you may find. It’s also very probable that you have seen one of their campaigns on TV.
There is one in particular which sees a father appearing to his young son at school to tell him that he “can’t come home tonight” and then asking him to look after his mum that continues to resonate within me.
The research carried out with the funds raised is far more important than I can put into words.
Safe to say that without such research I might not have been here to write this post today.
Did you know that medical research isn’t the only service that the BHF provides to help people with heart conditions?
They also organise, host and fund events that allow young people with our conditions to come together from all over the country. Offering the opportunity to get to know others in a similar situation, as well as safely take part in activities that they may have never have had the chance to try.
I first found out about this programme in 2011 when I attended the Jingle Bell Ball at the 02 Arena in London and since then they have organised various other events, from single day cooking and interview classes, to the three day long “Weekend Stunners”, at which we could have a go at kayaking, rock climbing, zip-lining and plenty of other outdoor sports.
At every single one of these events all of the young people are able to bring along a parent or guardian to make sure everybody feels safe and comfortable.
The BHF take good care of every need or concern that the youngsters and parents might have.
For myself, the first two events I attended saw me travelling all the way from the north of Scotland to the south of England. Rather long journeys which I likely would not have undertaken had my parents not been able to join me.
As time moved on I began to worry about crossing the age limit for these events and missing out on all the opportunities that they present.
Fortunately they have now set up an eighteen plus programme. A great relief to us in the old guard who didn’t want to be left out of all the crystal maze and escape room shenanigans.
All of this being said, the most important benefit of these events is, without any shadow of a doubt, the opportunity to meet and get to know others who are in a similar position.
Growing up I only knew one other person with a heart condition and there were plenty of others at these events who had never met even one other heart patient.
We finally had the chance to share our stories and experiences with people who knew how we felt and what we had been through.
I have made many good friends, a few of whom even took the trip all the way up to the Highlands from Wales and the south of England to attend my wedding at the beginning of the year.
We continually talk on our BHF group chat and are always there to offer support to each other when it is needed.
Even through this Lockdown, the Foundation continues to work hard for us all. Organising virtual events such as escape rooms, dinner parties and yoga classes. The amazing staff at the BHF never stop and we cannot ever thank them enough for that.
I do wish that this aspect of the BHF was more widely known.
It deserves a lot more attention for the many ways in which it has helped us.
There are still plenty of young people out there with heart conditions who are unaware that these opportunities exist.
I found out because my parents stumbled across it by accident and I have spoken to others who tell a similar story.
It is not exaggeration to say that these events and the people I’ve met through them have had a massive impact on my life in the most positive way. I hope that more and more people join, because it could really change the way they see their condition.
I will end by saying this.
The BHF is a wonderful organisation that funds not only life saving research, but also life changing experiences.
If you want to know more about these opportunities, or know somebody who would benefit from them, then please check out the links below;
Teen Heart, for 13-18 years old.
One Beat, for 18-30 years old.