Randalstown woman Karen Rennie picked up the top prize in her category at British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland’s Heart Hero Awards.
Karen won the Influencing category in the charity’s annual awards ceremony which recognise and celebrate the exceptional contribution of individuals and groups who are fighting for every heartbeat in Northern Ireland, such as heart patients who are campaigning for better services, fundraisers, partners, scientists and health professionals.
The mum of four lives with four long term conditions, heart conditions supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and left bundle branch block, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s disease and a headache disorder.
Last year she was the public face of the Keep Us Well campaign that fought against the reintroduction of prescription charges for people with long term conditions.
Karen was presented with her award by BHF Chief Executive Simon Gillespie at a special ceremony in Belfast City Hall in front of more than 200 people.
Simon said: “Our annual Heart Hero Awards recognise and celebrate the exceptional contribution that our supporters make to our fight against heart disease. And we’re delighted to recognise Karen for her amazing campaigning that secured a commitment by the then Health Minister not to reintroduce prescription charges for those with long term conditions.
“From doing TV work, appearing in a campaign report and speaking with passion to Stormont politicians, no task was too great for Karen whose brave story led to a campaign win and scrapping of plans to bring back charges. It was a privilege to congratulate Karen and thank her and all of our supporters who are helping to fight for every heartbeat in Northern Ireland.”
The event was addressed by former First Minister Peter Robinson who spoke about his heart attack last year and Sinn Fein MLA Cathal Boylan who had quadruple bypass surgery in July 2015.
The two political figures talked about living with heart disease and the support and encouragement they’ve had from Northern Ireland’s dedicated cardiac care nurses and doctors.