Take Heart Southend and District
Cardiac Support Group
Registered Charity No. 1023707
Prior to 1990, there was little advice or support offered locally to patients suffering from heart disease outside of the hospital environment. An informal survey was carried out by Sue Middleton – Clinical Nurse Specialist and Colleagues on the Cardiac Unit at Southend General Hospital, their main aim to assess what proportion of patients felt that a cardiac support group would be of value to them once they were discharged home. The results revealed that in excess of 90% would have liked to know that a support network existed for them, even if they may not have felt the need to regularly attend meetings.
Sue and her team went on to write to four groups in order to gain information regarding their experiences of setting up a support group of this nature. Several visits were made to the ‘Heartbeat’ group in Ipswich where invaluable lessons were learnt from their committee about running meetings and, more importantly, what presenting problems to be prepared for from the community using the support service itself.
Support was gained from the consultants at Southend Hospital, but it was evident that there were no resources available to fund such a venture so it became clear that the group would have to be self-supporting with all time given voluntarily. Meetings were arranged with teams of healthcare professionals, physiotherapists, pharmacists, and dieticians; all of whom were willing to give their time as speakers and they were extremely supportive of the whole concept of such a group.
A steering committee was then formed, consisting of seven members; three were healthcare professionals and the remaining four were ex- patients. Fortunately the first chairman was not only an ex-patient, but also a local counsellor. Dr Davison, Consultant Physician, agreed to be patron.
After much deliberation the name ‘Take Heart’ was agreed upon. A venue and date for the first meeting was set, and work began. The content of the meeting was formalized, and the initial application for charitable status submitted. The public launch on 6 March 1991 was a great success with over sixty people attending. Nine months of work had come together successfully and Take Heart was born.
Further advertising took place, as did fundraising, to enable us to develop a library service. A 24hr ‘listening ear’ service was set up, manned by Chris, our counsellor. This proved an invaluable service in those early years.
Over a quarter of a century on, ‘Take Heart’ has grown to over 850 members and now attracts 60-90 members to the monthly meetings, which are now held in the Eastwood Community Centre.
New members are encouraged to come along and introduce themselves. They will be given a very warm welcome.
… Take Heart was started by volunteers and patients in Southend on Sea, Essex. It’s primary focus being to help those who are suffering from heart related health conditions and the aftermath of heart attacks, heart bypass surgery or angina.
… involved from patients, to their families and carers. Take Heart was formed as a support network, caring for those who care. Members can be contacted by anyone needing help to come to terms with their health problems and their related anxieties.
… our network and community up to date so started providing a free quarterly magazine for all members. We have just introduced a downloadable option however copies are also available in local GP surgeries, hospitals, libraries and outpatient clinics.
Paul is a local businessman who has always been involved in various charities and fundraising groups. Suffering a heart attack in 1997 which was followed by bypass surgery soon after, Paul decided to concentrate his efforts by joining Take Heart in 1998 and help fellow sufferers by showing that there is life after a cardiac event. Paul quickly became secretary which led to him being appointed Chairman in 2011. Married to Sue for 48 years, he is a family man with three daughters, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is a keen golfer whose outlook on life is to have fun which is reflected in the work he does for Take Heart.
Colin has been a member of Take Heart since September 2002, after having a triple bypass in June of the same year. A family man, Colin is happily married to Gill and has 3 beautiful children.
Colin works in shipping, sending containers of machinery / paper / personal items around the world to various destinations.
Having a passion for all things mechanical, Colin has many hobbies, which include trains boats and planes, also having a keen interest in British & American football. His main duties within Take Heart are to look after all things financial, which is a very important task.
Gill has been a member of Take Heart since September 2002, supporting her husband Colin after his heart attack and triple by-pass. Like Colin she has 3 adorable children.
Gill is also an active member of St John Ambulance and can be seen regularly at many events in and around Southend in addition to which, she also has a part time job in a local Dry Cleaners and is head cook and bottle washer to the family. Gills task at Take Heart is to take care of all membership details and update this information as and when needed. With over 800 members this is a highly valued role.