The group, assembled by NI Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS), is encouraging the public to join them in their hero quest to raise vital funds for two heart projects in Northern Ireland, one to support local research which could detect early signs of heart disease and the other to introduce a brand new, dedicated heart care service for Northern Ireland.
Aly, who herself has a heart condition, joins an impressive team of community fundraisers, corporate partners, cardiac consultants and others who are either living with or have lost a loved one to heart disease.
Aly said: “I lost my father to a cardiomyopathy when I was young and five years ago, was shocked to discover I had the same condition.
“The diagnosis was difficult for me to process as I had always considered myself to be relatively fit and healthy.
‘‘Since my diagnosis, I’ve had to slow down slightly and attend more regular check-ups but I’m thankful to have been diagnosed early and given time to make these lifestyle changes. Now I want to raise awareness of heart conditions and show people that it can affect anyone.’’
Heart Strong is NI Chest Heart and Stroke’s new heart health and recovery service which will be piloted in early 2020. The first of its kind and wholly dedicated to people living with heart disease in Northern Ireland, it will bridge the gap between rehabilitation after treatment and getting back to normal life, helping the person grow beyond their current capabilities.
Declan Cunnane, ceo of NI Chest Heart and Stroke said: “This campaign is so important because it shows the reality that heart conditions can affect almost anyone in our society and reinforces the need for better research and improved services which public donations can fund.’’
*To support the Local Heart Heroes Christmas campaign by visiting the webpage, donating online or texting LOCALHEARTS to 70085 to donate £5.