Guernsey Press wins award for coverage of Wessex Heartbeat

THE GUERNSEY PRESS has been given an award for its features on a charity which provides a home-from-home for the loved ones of patients being treated at Southampton’s Cardiac Centre.

Wessex Heartbeat runs the 25-bedroom Heartbeat House so that the families of patients undergoing operations can have somewhere close by and comfortable to stay.

In 2019, there were 298 families from Guernsey who stayed at the house.

The charity presented its Outstanding Contribution Cherida Patchett Award to the Guernsey Press for its series of articles highlighting the important work.

Reporter Zoe Fitch and photographer Sophie Rabey travelled to Southampton to hear the experiences of families, medical staff and volunteers from the charity.

The editor’s personal assistant, Yvonne Blundell, was also recognised for her ‘make it happen’ organisational skills.

The award was presented by Jaine Vermeulen, who heads up a new group called Guernsey Friends of Heartbeat.

Mrs Vermeulen stayed at Heartbeat House when her husband Chris was referred to Southampton after he had a heart attack. She said the support she received at such a difficult time was excellent.

‘I landed in Southampton with my very sick husband and I had a little bag with my pyjamas in it because we’d had half an hour to get onto the plane, and someone took me over to Heartbeat House, which is just off the premises of the hospital, literally across the road, and they showed me a nice little room and there’s a shared kitchen and a lounge.

‘But the best thing about it was that everyone else there was in the same boat, so it doesn’t matter if you go and make yourself a cup of tea and burst into tears, everybody is around and they all helped.

‘When Chris was in ICU and on ventilation it was very worrying, but someone told me that their husband had been like that a week ago and pulled through.

‘Half of the people that were in there were from Guernsey, so we’ve got together and kept in touch.

Along with Heartbeat House, the charity also funds revolutionary equipment, specialist research, and gives spot health checks as part of a healthy heart campaign.

Guernsey Press editor Shaun Green said the team was really touched to receive the charity’s special award.

‘Wessex Heartbeat does incredible work, so it was a huge privilege for us to be able to go behind the scenes and meet the people who make such a difference.

‘The charity is there for people who suddenly find themselves in Southampton with a family member in a critical condition and we enthusiastically salute their support.’

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