Heartbeat, formerly known as Wessex Heartbeat, is a Southampton-based cardiac charity, established for over 30 years. It is fortunate enough to have a Royal Patron, HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh, who has been very invested in the charity for over 25 years.

The charity is based at Heartbeat House, Tremona Road, Southampton, and is situated directly opposite the University Hospital Southampton (UHS), specifically the Wessex Cardiac Unit, which is one of the UK’s leading centres of excellence for cardiac care.

Heartbeat’s core purpose is to accommodate and look after the relatives of patients who are undergoing serious cardiac interventions at the Wessex Cardiac Unit, in its home-from-home 24-bedroom house. The relatives initially pay a small key deposit, and can then stay at the house free of charge for as long as they need to, being only five minutes away from their loved ones.

Such is the expertise in specialist cardiac treatment that patients are receiving at UHS, they are being referred from as far west as Devon and Cornwall, as far north as parts of the Midlands, as far south as the Channel Islands, and as far east as West Sussex. There are therefore people from a large number of communities that benefit from the comfort of Heartbeat House who are able to share their anxieties with those going through similar situations. As a result, many life-friendships have been formed.

In addition, the charity fundraises and funds pioneering research and projects that are emanating from some of the leading cardiologists and surgeons in the country. These projects initially benefit local people in Hampshire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight, and can then be rolled out to other trusts in the UK, hence the re-naming of the charity from ‘Wessex Heartbeat’ to ‘Heartbeat – supporting Wessex and beyond’.

The team of nine is headed up by CEO, Mark Ind, who has been in post for a year and a half. Mark has run hotels in London, the Home Counties and the South for over 25 years. He has a son, aged 25 years old, who was born with congenital heart disease, and who has undergone four bouts of major open heart surgery throughout his life at the Wessex Cardiac Unit in UHS. He is acutely aware, not only of the amazing care and expertise that UHS provides but also the anxieties and stress that relatives go through. Mark and his family have also been fundraisers for the charity for over 20 years, raising over £150,000 to support various projects. Also part of the team is
Tina Richardson, Head of Operations, who has been with Heartbeat for over 24 years, and Tina Tolley, Head of Business and Donor Development who has over six years’ service. They are affectionately known as the ‘Two Tinas’ and are key in how the charity evolves to do even more exciting things in the future.

Heartbeat has no government or local council funding, so income to run and improve Heartbeat House or to support projects comes directly from donations from individuals and corporate partners. Monies are raised through quality events such as dinners, golf days and gala performances. It is very important to the charity that any donor knows exactly where and how their money is going to be spent, and it is hugely proud of its ability to support the Wessex Cardiac Unit in helping both save and change lives with both preventative and reactive cardiac care. It may be a small charity, but it does big things.


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