volunteer who battled heart problem backs the charity's big Bag-athon
A Wirral mum was at the
heart of a launch for a national charity donation drive at a
Birkenhead shopping centre. Diane Wright, a mum-of-two with
one on the way, had more reason than most to support the Great
British Bag-athon event for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) at
Pyramids Shopping Centre.
Not only has 30-year-old Diane been a volunteer sales assistant at
the Pyramids' BHF Furniture and Electrical store for the past two
years but she has also had a problem with her own heart, which has
made her even more aware of the 'brilliant' work the charity
does to help fight for every heartbeat.
Diane was only too happy to lend her support to the Bag-athon
campaign which is urging people to fill up bags with unwanted items,
such as clothes, books, homewares, toys, CDs and DVDs, which can
then be re-sold to help the foundation carry on its life-saving
In the UK, someone dies from a heart attack every 7 minutes, so the
more bags that are donated, the more researchers the BHF can fund,
meaning more lives will be saved.
The donation drive was officially launched at the Pyramids Shopping
Centre, which has two BHF stores, by the Deputy Mayor of Wirral,
Councillor Steve Foulkes, when he donated the first bag of items.
On hand to watch him was Diane, who lives in Birkenhead with her
partner Gareth and two children, 13 year old Jamie and Bethany, 6,
and is expecting her 3rd child next January. 2 years ago, at
the age of just 28, she underwent an operation to correct a
condition which had left her crippled by uncontrollable heart
palpitations. She recalled:- "I'd always had a history
of a fast and irregular heartbeat but about 3 years ago it just got
out of control. My heart was beating at 180 to 200 times a
minute when the normal is rate is 90 to 100. I was in and out
of hospital to try and slow it down but nothing seemed to work,
including the beta blockers I was on for about 8 months. Apart
from affecting me physically the condition also left me in a bad
state mentally. I had no confidence and I was scared to leave
the house on my own or with the children in case my heart speeded up
to the point where something happened to me."
But, according to Diane, things changed for the better when she was
admitted to Liverpool Heart and Chester Hospital at Broadgreen 2
years ago last March. The procedure she underwent is called
ablation, which aims to correct or control abnormally fast heart
rhythms; a condition known as arrhythmia.
Carried out under local anaesthetic and sedation but taking just a
few hours, it involves thin, flexible tubes called catheters being
placed into a vein in the patient's groin or wrist. The
catheters are then gently moved into the correct position in your
heart before a laser is used to destroy the affected area inside the
heart that is causing the abnormal beat.
Diane said:- "The doctors told me that in my case the abnormal
rhythm was being caused by an extra pathway in the heart. The laser
partially destroyed it and since then I have been fine.
I was alright when I was having my first 2 children because my heart
condition wasn't so bad then but since I've been pregnant with my
latest baby my heart has been speeding up a little.
I've been in hospital 3 times because it has got up top 140 or 150
beats to the minute but they've got things under control.
The doctors at Arrowe Park Hospital say they don't think it's my old
condition which has come back but is due to the extra hormone
activity in my body because I am pregnant."
Diane says she's keeping her fingers crossed that everything goes
well when she gives birth to her new baby; which she already knows
is a boy; early next year. Meanwhile, she is continuing to
work 2 shifts a week as a volunteer at the BHF Furniture and
Electrical store; a job she believes helped her to overcome the
problems she developed as a result of her heart condition.
"I started working there a few months after I had my
operation. A friend of mine, Lianne Davies, works there on the
permanent staff and she persuaded me to give it a try, " she
explained. "I definitely think it helped me get back to
normal because going out and meeting people at the shop has given me
back my confidence, particularly as, being the BHF, they have been
very understanding about everything.
The staff are all lovely, friendly people and with the customers,
many of whom are regulars, it's like one big, happy family.
After I have the baby I am certainly planning to go back perhaps one
day a week because I love it so much.
The BHF is a marvellous charity which does so much to help people
with heart problems like myself and I think the Bag-athon is a
brilliant way to bring in more things we can sell in the shop. I
hope everyone supports it as much as they can."
The Great British Bag-athon is BHF shops' biggest stock donation
campaign and aims to raise one million bags of unwanted items
throughout September. Every bag filled is a bag full of life-saving
Derek Millar, Commercial Director for Pyramids Shopping Centre,
said:- "We are delighted to be holding a Great British Bag-athon
event this year. It's the perfect opportunity to have a
clear-out and donate any unwanted items, raising vital funds to
support those in our community, like Diane, who are living with
BHF Area Manager, Jacqui Webb said:- "We'd like to urge
everyone in Birkenhead's local community to get involved with this
Great British Bag-athon event and help us raise bags full of
Coronary heart disease is the UK's single biggest killer and every
bag you fill is a bag full of life-saving research. Every donation
really makes a difference."
Bags of items can be donated to either BHF store at Pyramids
Shopping Centre and more information can be found
for historic church
AN historic Liverpool
building which was once the tallest in the City and which has been
derelict for the last 30 years; is about to begin a new era.
Significant steps forward have been taken in securing the future of
the Grade II listed Welsh Presbyterian Church on Princes Road in
Toxteth, so that it can be restored and brought back into meaningful
The project is being led by the Merseyside Building Preservation
Trust; a charity dedicated to the restoration of historic buildings; with the support of the
City Council. The Trust has acquired the
building, which sits within the Princes Park Conservation Area, and
has already secured its boundary with new durable fencing.
Now, the Trust has secured funding from the Architectural Heritage
Fund to carry out a feasibility study and options appraisal for the
site; a major milestone in breathing new life into the building. A
team of professionals with expertise in bringing historic buildings
back into use will look at the current structural stability of the
church, and consult with the local community and businesses over
potential future uses.
It is anticipated that the report will take three months to
complete, and will help the Trust secure further funding for the
full refurbishment of the building, in partnership with a developer
Chair of the Trust, Bill Maynard, said:- "This is an exciting
opportunity to begin the regeneration of such an iconic building in
the Liverpool 8 area, and we will be seeking the views of the
community as part of the appraisal process.
This is a true partnership approach between ourselves, Liverpool
City Council, and Architectural Heritage Fund, and I am confident
that our strong partnership will deliver the refurbishment project
Following the options appraisal, the Trust will be seeking an end
user who can secure the long term and sustainable use of this
important building. If all goes well, we hope to submit an
application for grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund early in
Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor
Malcolm Kennedy, said:- "The Welsh Presbyterian Church is an
important part of Liverpool's heritage, so it's fantastic to see
these major steps being taken to bring it back into use.
The building has lain empty for too long, but it can finally look
forward to a brighter future, thanks to this vital work getting
underway. Working together, we can give the church a new lease of
life, protect its future and make it a hub of activity once more.
This is the start of a new, positive chapter in the building's
history. It's great news for the local community, and great news for
The Welsh Presbyterian Church was built between 1865-67 by W and G
Audsley. The pair are considered masters of Victorian design and the
church is one of a number of outstanding landmarks they created in
When the church was opened in 1868, it was the tallest building in
Liverpool, at 61 metres (200 feet). It was used as a Non-Conformist
Chapel until it fell vacant in the 1980s.
hosts Skills Minister at Port Sunlight
SKILLS Minister Matthew
Hancock visited the Unilever Port Sunlight site to lend his support
to local young people taking part in a national skills campaign.
Following a weekend of festivities as part of Port Sunlight's 125th
Anniversary Village Festival, Matthew Hancock took a tour of the
factory and met Unilever apprentices from both the factory and R&D
The Minister also visited a Feeding Britain's Future workshop, where
young people were gaining a unique exposure to industry skills with
Unilever and its staff.
Mr Hancock's visit to Port Sunlight comes as Unilever celebrates 125
years since William Lever first began building the works in the
Village. Today, the manufacturer employs around 2,000 people in the
community and in the future, following the announcement last year of
£40million investment in a new high-tech manufacturing facility by
2015, 1/3rd of Unilever's UK and Ireland workforce will be based in
Following the visit and skills workshops, Amanda Sourry, Chairman
Unilever UK & Ireland, hosted a commemorative lecture in the
Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight under the theme of Innovation in
Manufacturing – Past, Present and Future.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, said:- "I want to
congratulate the staff and wider community of Port Sunlight as they
celebrate their 125th anniversary. Port Sunlight demonstrates the
strong heritage and history of the UK's manufacturing sector.
Today it is flourishing and looking to the future through the
expansion of its Research and Development facilities, backed by the
Government's Regional Growth Fund. I am particularly pleased
that Unilever has embraced apprenticeships, with 40 apprentices
starting across the business this month alone. I wish these new
recruits, and all the staff, the very best for the next 125 years!"
Andy Stickland, works director for
the North West, Unilever UK & Ireland, commented:- "Port
Sunlight is the historic home of Unilever and following the major
investment and new jobs we announced last year, it's fantastic to
welcome Matthew Hancock to see the site in action. I was proud to
give him the opportunity to meet some of the young people who are
the future of our company. Apprentices are talented, ambitious
and loyal employees and the scheme is a great way for a company to
build their talent for the future. As a large employer, we have an
opportunity; and a responsibility; to help develop their skills for
Joanne Denney-Finch OBE, Chief Executive of IGD, said:-
"Feeding Britain's Future is about helping young people to
understand the rules of the game. By offering valuable training in
areas like CV writing and interview skills, we want to build
confidence so they can compete in the jobs market."