CHESTER has become the first place in the North West to wear its heart on its sleeve and sign up as one of the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF’s) 50 national Heart Cities and Towns.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has teamed up with the BHF as part of the charity’s Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, which has been launched to mark its 50th anniversary this year.
Heart Cities and Towns are a new initiative from the nation’s heart charity that brings communities together through fundraising and volunteering as well as raising awareness of heart disease.
They also offer residents a raft of support services, including schools initiatives, workplace health and lifestyle information resources.
Ken Fretwell, BHF volunteer fundraising manager in Chester, said: “We are delighted Chester has decided to become a Heart City. There are many activities and events happening throughout the year that local people can get involved in.
“We will be working with the communities of Chester to raise awareness of heart disease and raise money for the BHF’s Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.”
The BHF is aiming for as many towns and cities across the UK to sign up and become a Heart Town, to help tackle the growing issue of heart and circulatory disease, which is the UK’s biggest killer.
Janet Lamb, 58, of Chester, was born with a hole in the heart and anomalous pulmonary venous connection, a rare congenital heart defect.
At the age of 11 she underwent open heart surgery, and is due to have a further operation later this year.
For the last 20 years Janet has been on the committee of the BHF Chester branch and has been chairwoman since 2009.
Janet said: “I think it is fantastic that Chester is set to become a Heart Town. It is wonderful that the community can work together to raise awareness of heart disease, as well as funds, which will benefit so many heart patients in the future.”
Cllr Mike Jones, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Cheshire West and Chester Council is committed to improving the health and quality of life of all our residents. It is deeply concerning that people are dying early from disease which is preventable, and we are committed to doing all we can to tackle this issue.
“Chester’s new status as a Heart City will enable us to work closely with the British Heart Foundation to support us in this aim. We are delighted to sign up to this five-year initiative and look forward to working with our partners and local residents to prevent early deaths from heart disease.”
Other organisations are also delighted to welcome Chester’s Heart City status.
John Denny, chairman of the Chester Area Partnership Board, said: “Minimising health inequalities, promoting healthier lifestyles and improving quality of life are priorities for the Area Partnership Board (APB).
“The APB agreed to Chester becoming a Heart City due to the far-reaching benefits it brings to Chester’s communities.
“In addition, Chester Heart City encourages local people to volunteer and take part in events and activities which will have benefits for themselves, their families and their friends.”
Julie Webster, interim director of public health at Western Cheshire PCT, said: “Heart disease is a major cause of poor health in our communities. I welcome the partnership being developed with the British Heart Foundation in raising the signs and symptoms of heart disease.
“This is a great opportunity to highlight the action people can take to protect themselves from heart disease, in particular by eating a healthy diet and being physically active.”
The Mending Broken Hearts Appeal is the biggest fundraising appeal ever launched in the BHF’s history. The goal is simple: to fund the research that could begin to ‘mend broken hearts’ in as little as 10 years and save and improve the lives of millions within decades.
The charity needs to spend £50m on the research to repair damaged hearts. The hope is it could be funding trials with heart failure patients in as little as five years.
For more, visit bhf.org.uk/hearttowns or call Ken Fretwell of the British Heart Foundation on 0151 678 2646, email email@example.com, or Michelle Talgam of Cheshire West and Chester Council on 01244 672859, emailŠ michelle.talgam@ cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.