BraveheartsNI, a charity for teenagers and young adults with congenital heart disease (CHD), is set for a hearty boost as the newly-elected Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, this week announced her chosen charity during her 2016-2017 term in office.
BraveheartsNI is a local charity, based in Ballymena, set up to support the needs of teenagers and young adults in Northern Ireland with CHD and the only charity in Northern Ireland to offer specialist support to this age group, with the primary focus on social and welfare care and patient and family support.
Councillor Wales said: “I’m proud to announce BraveheartsNI as my chosen charity. As the lifeblood of our Borough, I’m delighted to be supporting young people in Northern Ireland living with this debilitating disease and to help raise funds for much needed specialist services. I’m also delighted to be supporting a young, local Ballymena charity which is working tirelessly to improve the lives of children and teenagers, as well as their families - the charity’s founder is an inspiration to us all.”
As the Mayor’s chosen charity, BraveheartsNI will receive support from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council through fundraising and awareness raising activities. The announcement comes at a time when congenital heart disease is particularly in the health spotlight, with the recent announcement by Health Ministers Michelle O’Neill and Simon Harris of a multi-million pound investment in developing a world class all-island paediatric cardiac surgical network.
BraveheartsNI Charity Leader, Clare Caulfield, said: “BraveheartsNI is delighted to be chosen as the Mayor’s charity of the year. Approximately 300 children in Northern Ireland are born every year with a heart condition, and around half will need intervention or surgery. We call them ‘Bravehearts’ to reflect the courage that these young children and teenagers show every day in living with CHD. The charity was set up two years ago primarily to provide both pastoral and financial support to teenage and young adult patients and their families, we also offer resource support for the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Department in Belfast, as well as financial support and assistance where possible.”
“We are excited to be able to use this unique opportunity to reach out to Bravehearts and their families to provide support and friendship to those who need it. Living with congenital or acquired heart disease can be extremely isolating and BraveheartsNI are tackling this one person at a time, whether it be through befriending, fundraising or financial help. We are truly delighted and look forward to the fun times ahead with Mid & East Antrim and embedding a legacy with Mayor Wales over the next year,” added Clare.