Programme for the week commencing 18th October, 2012

Last year, at a networking event, I was asked what inspires me to go to work everyday – I answered honestly, and left the two ladies who had asked me with tears in their eyes.

For those who don’t know who I am, or what I do – I am a community Fundraiser (my official title is Fundraising & Volunteer Manager) for British Heart Foundation (BHF) in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

So – my inspiration – on 20th October 1988, my niece, Abigail was born at Gloucester Royal Hospital. Abigail was blue when she was born – her heart was effectively back to front, and she had a hole in her heart. She was given hours to live.

Abigail was taken by ambulance, with a police escort to Bristol, where cardiac surgeons assessed her for surgery. She was kept alive on a ventilator whilst the surgeons made their decisions.

Abigail had open heart surgery within her first week of life – a process that was repeated another 2 times before she was 6 months old.

At 6 months old, Abigail was eventually allowed to come home – she was still quite blue, but her heart was pumping – and she’d already lived 6 months longer than she’d been predicted to.

On 20th October 2012 (this Saturday), Abigail (now likes to be called Abbie) will be 24. She is now a mother to two beautiful girls, Sarah-J and Lacey. With Abbie’s pregnancies, they have been  carefully monitored, and very early on, scans were done to see if babies hearts were defective in any way – if they had been, the surgeons could have operated on them before they were born – this is the difference that money raised for  BHF can make.

British Heart Foundation is primarily a research charity – in the last financial year, more than £88 million pounds was spent on research into heart disease and genetic heart conditions.

BHF also offers prevention advice (huge amount of educational materials available, and also publications aimed at the public to promote healthy lifestyles in a practical way). As well as the “Care” arm of BHF – where we fund Cardiac Nurses within the NHS, and also provide the “Heart Helpline” – which is staffed by medical professionals for people who are concerned about a diagnosis, either for themselves or a loved one. BHF also run a bereavement line – which offers counselling to the families left behind when Heart Disease has won the fight.

I have been in post since January 2011  – but I love my job already – I meet so many inspirational people, the volunteers that I work alongside are amazing people – from Steve, who is a heart transplant patient – having had a new heart 28 years ago, which has allowed him to see his Grandchildren born and grown up, to Kate, who lost her Mum to heart disease and is now setting up a fundraising group in Stroud.

Some other questions I get asked –

Do you get paid for your job? Yes, I do get paid – for 35 hours a week. I work around 50-70 hours most weeks.

Do you have financial targets? Yes, I do – and they’re high, but I do not get financially rewarded for meeting these targets – it’s just a nice feeling to be helping more people.

Why should we support a National Charity instead of a Local Charity? Because BHF has a presence everywhere – You will probably have a defibrillator near to your home or workplace that has been funded by BHF, or you will have a heart nurse in your local hospital that is able to continue learning about latest techniques because BHF funded it, your GP surgery may well have equipment that has been bought with BHF money to benefit the community. Heart and Circulatory disease kills more people than anything else in the UK, and women are 3 times more likely to die from a heart attack than breast cancer.

Feel free to get in touch with any other questions – I won’t mind!

For more information about the work of the BHF – please visit

In February (National Heart Month), the eClub will be “hosting” a virtual balloon race – with balloons being sold for £2 each, the balloons are then released and make their way through the virtual air – one of them will get the furthest – will it be yours?? Even if it’s not your balloon, you will have helped BHF and Rotary charities by buying a balloon and encouraging your friends to do so too!

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0 thoughts on “What inspires you?

  1. Mary Loran says:

    Thank you for that insight into your life, very moving, your story about Abbie will certainly help when selling the virtual balloons.

  2. Rachel-A says:

    Rachel, thank you for telling us what you do. BHF is a charity very close to my heart so great to hear more on it. I work with the Heartstart Bristol scheme which is part of BHF to teach members of the public basic resucitation skills so if they come across someone who has had a heart attack, they can help. If anyone is interested in doing a 2hr course (free but donations asked for), do say, its really easy and might just save a loved one’s life one day!

  3. Rachel Davis says:

    Thanks for your comments guys – It’s a story that I can almost tell without getting emotional, but not quite!
    I have so much to be grateful for, so I am determined to raise as much money for BHF as possible!

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