North Yorkshire heart patient Jack Hartley popped into Harrogate school Belmont Grosvenor to help launch their fundraising campaign for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. Nine-month-old Jack, whose aunt is a teacher at the co-educational prep school, underwent life-saving heart surgery at Leeds when he was just 14 weeks old.
The youngster is now a happy and healthy toddler and was delighted to meet pupils and staff at Belmont Grosvenor who have committed to raise funds for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) during 2015.
Jack’s mum Rebecca Hartley, who lives in Knaresborough, praised the school for launching the fundraising campaign and helping other children like Jack. “We are extremely grateful for all the help and support that we received from the charity while Jack was in hospital having his operation. And we are delighted that Belmont Grosvenor has decided to fundraise for such a great cause,” she said.
Jack’s aunt Catherine Fearn is drama co-ordinator at the prep school and she was on hand to introduce her nephew to pupils. “We were incredibly lucky with Jack. He had his operation and has now had the all-clear. We had so much support from the charity, we want to help raise as much money as possible,” said Rebecca. “It’s lovely to come up to Belmont Grosvenor School and let pupils meet Jack and hear his story – it enables them to understand where the money they raise will go to.”
CHSF chief executive Sharon Coyle and community fundraiser Myriam Barker also dropped into Belmont Grosvenor, based at Swarcliffe Hall, Birstwith, to help launch the fundraising drive.
Around 400 children undergo open heart surgery at the Yorkshire heart unit at the Leeds General Infirmary each year – and 10,000 babies and children use the unit each year. The charity funds equipment, staff posts, resources and training for those who work on the heart wards and support patients and their families.
“We are thrilled that Belmont Grosvenor School has decided to fundraise for us this year. We are wholly self-funded so the support of the local community is vital for us. We hope that as well as fundraising, our link with Belmont Grosvenor School will help raise awareness of congenital heart disease,” said Sharon Coyle.
Belmont Grosvenor School, which along with its Magic Tree Nursery cares for children from three months to 11 years, has raised thousands of pounds in recent years for local charities, including Harrogate Homeless Project, Carers’ Resource and Yorkshire Cancer Research. Gail Bland, the school’s charities co-ordinator said Jack’s visit had given pupils a real understanding of the support offered by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at Leeds. “All our pupils are determined to raise as much money as possible by taking part in a wide range of activities throughout the year to help children and their families who are facing heart surgery in Yorkshire. Here at Belmont Grosvenor we have a strong track record of fundraising for local charities and we are looking forward to building a close relationship with the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund,” she said.