REWARD ENTRY- Nominated by Jo Symth at Word-worker https://wordworker.co.uk
Organisation: Heart Heroes, located in Gloucester:
Category: Leader of the Year
HEART HEROES FOUNDER: Kelly Cornish
In 2018 the charity Heart Heroes was founded, to support children with congenital heart conditions and their families.
Such children outwardly look ‘normal,’ as there is no obvious sign of disability. This in itself can be isolating. So Heart Heroes provides support, signposting and guidance to families as they face, and learn to live with, challenging medical conditions and all these entail: hospitalisation, surgery, missing school, and now (thanks to Covid) shielding.
With around 200 families on its book, and two recently opened Hubs (one in Bristol, one in Wales, to extend the charity’s reach) Heart Heroes is going from strength to strength.
The driving force behind Heart Heroes is mum-of-three Kelly Cornish.
Her inspiration is personal: 25 years ago, Kelly’s cousin, Corina, died aged just 10 months, while surgeons attempted to fit a stent in her heart. She had been born with a congenital heart condition.
Kelly said: “I had just finished senior school and I would go to see her every day at Bristol Children’s Hospital. It was all very traumatic for my aunt.”
As an adult, inspired by Corina, Kelly worked for a charity for young people with congenital heart disease. She soon realised there was little by way of support for parents of babies and small children.
So Heart Heroes was born.
Under Kelly’s guidance, the charity has a strong and supportive board of trustees, and has just taken on its first employee, Amy Ely. Recently, Zoe Trotman, Cardiac Ward Sister at Bristol Children’s Hospital, became patron, showing the strong link between the charity and the NHS.
Heart Heroes is all about raising awareness and supporting families through:
- Events – now on hold due to Covid, but regular coffee mornings and socials are the backbone of the charity. Sadly, this year’s Christmas party and the first ever residential, which was being planned for the children, have also been postponed
- Awareness, such as the ‘find the teddies’ campaign run via social media
- A children’s book, telling the story of Naayt, which will help children going through the same experience
- A Heart Heroes song, soon to be launched, again to raise awareness.
- Fundraisers, such as a virtual tea party, casino evening, ball, It’s a knockout, quizzes, bingo, virtual fair, an online gig… and much more.
Here are some of the comments from Heart Heroes families:
Maggie’s Mum, Ruth: “I am able to go to the Heart Heroes group and talk about my experiences. Everyone is very friendly and approachable and Kelly looks after us. She has the family experience and it is like she is one of us. She does so much for us.”
Gabriel’s Mum, Lottie: “Not everyone understands what it is like to know that your baby’s heart has been stopped while they operate on them. They do not understand what it is like to see your child with all of those tubes coming out of them.”
Naayt’s Mum, Rose: “Heart Heroes has been brilliant for our family, because it is very difficult for people who aren’t heart families to understand what we go through.”
Heart Heroes video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW2pqefepYA&feature=emb_logo
Press coverage for Heart Heroes: