THE British Heart Foundation (BHF) tonight celebrated inspirational ‘Heart Heroes’ who have shown courage, resilience, compassion and bravery in the face of debilitating heart and circulatory diseases.
Usually, a glitzy, black-tie event that has previously taken the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe, this year’s event was transformed into a star-studded virtual event which was hosted on YouTube.
Nominees included children with life-threatening illnesses, phenomenal fundraisers, talented medical professionals and people who have done extraordinary things to save the lives of strangers or those they love.
The annual event was hosted by Vernon Kay and the amazing ‘Heart Heroes’ were recognised by celebrity attendees including Gary Cahill, David Ginola, Graeme Souness, the Mac Twins, Chessie King and Olivia Arben.
The night’s entertainment was peppered with exclusive performances by singer-songwriter Ella Henderson and new BHF ambassador Luke Pritchard from the Kooks’. Family members, friends and the public also tuned in to watch the emotive award ceremony.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at the BHF, said:
“Whilst this year’s Heart Hero Awards were virtual, we enjoyed celebrating the brilliant and inspirational people who have undergone life-altering experiences or have changed the lives of others. A huge thank you and congratulations to all of the nominees and winners, judges and presenters, as well as our new celebrity ambassadors for making the Heart Hero Awards the unique and heart-warming event that it is.”
One of this year’s winners was Sophia Marshall, 4 who was presented the ‘Young Heart Hero Award’ by new BHF ambassador, TV and radio presenter, Yinka Bokinni.
Sophia was born with eleven complex heart defects and at just three-days-old had a cardiac arrest in her father’s arms. Since then, Sophia has had five major heart surgeries and survived against the odds to raise awareness of congenital heart disease. Her incredible fighting spirit inspired her family to fundraise for the BHF – Sophia regularly does bucket collections. The family has also championed the charity’s ‘Opt-out organ donation’ campaign.
The ‘Outstanding Contribution’ award, which was announced by new BHF ambassador Gemma Atkinson, was won by June and Jim Machin. The dedicated couple have channelled their grief from losing their two sons to congenital heart disease to raise over £600,000 for the BHF over 45 years. This phenomenal couple have also turned tragedy into action to help other families facing the loss of their children. They are constantly fighting to ensure their sons’ legacy is continuing to help fund research into heart and circulatory diseases.
A brand-new award, the ‘Joan Willett Legacy Award’, was presented to 104-year-old Joan Willett by the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. Inspired by Sir Tom Moore, Joan walked 70 miles up and down a hill outside of her care home to raise over £60,000 for the BHF’s life-saving research. The Duchess of York sent a personal message to Joan to congratulate her for the great achievement before announcing the inaugural award.
This year’s Heart Hero Awards are supported by Laerdal Medical, who are working with the BHF to help save more lives and beat heartbreak forever.
To donate to the BHF during this time, please visit: https://www.bhf.org.uk/donate/