Last year Ballymena girl Shealyn Caulfield won the Young Heart Hero category in the British Heart Foundation NI (BHF NI) Heart Hero Awards.
The charity’s awards recognise and celebrate the exceptional contribution of individuals and groups who are fighting for every heartbeat, such as heart patients, fundraisers, campaigners, scientists and health professionals.
People like Shealyn who was born prematurely and with a heart condition. She is currently living with heart failure and has lost a lot of her hair due to the many medications she is on daily. But even that hasn’t stopped her.
Together with her mum Clare, the Ballymena teen has set up Bravehearts NI a charity which helps teenagers and young adults from the age of 14 who are transferred to adult wards quite often without their parents for long periods of time. They help families of heart patients in financial need and allow dying patients access to equipment which will allow them to die with dignity in their own home rather than hospital.
BHF NI is encouraging locals to open their hearts in 2017 and nominate the people they believe deserve a Heart Hero Award. There are four award categories: Inspiration Award; Young Hero Award; Heart Health Professional Award and Fighting Spirit Award.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at BHF said: “We are very lucky to have passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic supporters. These awards are a way to recognise our heart patients, their families and the people who fundraise for us. All those fighting for a world in which people do not die prematurely from heart disease. Coronary heart disease is still our single biggest killer and nearly every family has been affected one way or another, whether they’ve felt the sudden devastation of losing someone to a heart attack, or they’re caring for a child or teenager born with congenital heart disease.
“Who has inspired you with their drive and determination to fight for every heartbeat? They might be someone who’s improving services for heart patients, a fundraiser who’s brilliant at organising community events or a heart patient who’s inspiring others by overcoming daily challenges.
“It’s really easy to nominate your friend, colleague or relative and they could be one of our Heart Heroes for 2017.”
Nominations should be made online at bhf.org.uk/heartheroes and all entries will be considered. A shortlist will be drawn up and put out to public vote in April on the bhf.org.uk/heartheroes.
Winners will be announced at the Heart Hero Awards at the XBHF NI Supporter Day at Belfast City Hall on Thursday, June 29.