For more than 25 years, Wessex Heartbeat has focused its fundraising efforts on support for the Southampton General Hospital’s Wessex Cardiac Centre. It has raised more than £16 million and in addition to the cardiac centre it has created Heartbeat House, the children’s Ocean Ward and the Heartbeat Education Centre, YACU as well as regular funding of leading-edge equipment, clinical education and research. For 2019 Hendy Foundation will be supporting the charity as it changes direction with a new emphasis on preventative work in the community. “We’ve helped to create this amazing facility, now we want to make sure no-one uses it,” said John Munro, Wessex Heartbeat’s CEO. “While some heart disease is unavoidable because of hereditary conditions or trauma from an accident, many conditions can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle. That’s really what we want to educate people across the entire Wessex region about and to do that we need to be there in the community talking to people,” he adds. One of the key initiatives for 2019 is a 12-week Healthy Heart Challenge. A pilot saw scores of business people take on a small but achievable challenge every week for three months in a bid to reduce their BMI, cholesterol and other factors of cardiac health. The challenges ranged from drinking more water to getting more active and had a real effect, with the group collectively losing more than 12 stone and reducing their cholesterol. “It was a big success and proof that with small changes you can improve your overall health,” said John. “As a result, we’re going to be rolling the challenge out to the wider public from 2019. It’s probably the thing I’m most excited about next year. It has the potential to change the lives of hundreds, even thousands of people.” The charity also has plans to work with more schools across Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset next year. Among its initiatives will be healthy heart talks, teaching children about the importance of exercise, diet and nutrition.