Penny Lancaster surprises children with heart conditions

6 December 2018        

Category: Fundraising

BHF supporter Penny Lancaster surprised young heart patients and their families by visiting Royal Brompton Hospital this morning in aid of our Christmas Appeal. 

British Heart Foundation supporter Penny Lancaster meets 17 month old Arthur Harding and his mother Laura Farquharson at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

British Heart Foundation supporter Penny Lancaster meets 17 month old Arthur Harding and his mother Laura Farquharson at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

The visit, which was led by our newly appointed Associate Medical Director Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, saw Penny spend the morning on Rose Ward which specialises in the care of babies and children up to the age of 16 with heart and lung problems.  

Penny chatted away with the children and listened to their inspirational stories of living with heart conditions, helping to spread a little Christmas cheer. 

British Heart Foundation supporter Penny Lancaster meets 12 year old Cristian Dulgheru and his mother Daniela at the Royal Brompton Hospital

Penny Lancaster meets 12 year old Cristian Dulgheru and his mother Daniela

After meeting the children, Dr Babu-Narayan introduced Penny to Sam Magee, aged 46, an adult survivor of congenital heart disease. Sam is one of Dr Babu-Narayan’s patients and has been looked after by the team at Royal Brompton all his life. Sam had life saving surgery as a baby for his congenital heart disease, but now decades later has frequent problems with heart rhythm disturbances and is breathless due to severe heart and lung disease. 

Dr Babu-Narayan was awarded a fellowship grant by the BHF for her research at Imperial College. She is using heart MRI to better identify which adult congenital heart disease patients are at the highest risk of life threatening heart rhythm disturbance or premature heart failure, which in turn could help get the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. This is just one of the many areas that we are funding research into. 

Penny Lancaster and Royal Brompton staff 

Penny is supporting our Christmas Appeal which aims to raise over half a million pounds for life saving research into all heart and circulatory diseases, including congenital heart disease. Sadly one in four people in the UK die from heart and circulatory diseases but we want to change this and stop families, like those Penny met at The Royal Brompton, from experiencing this devastation. 

Penny is no stranger to the heartbreak caused by heart and circulatory diseases. Last year, her dad Graham suffered a heart attack and was lucky to survive. Her husband, Rod Stewart also has a close connection to the cause as his brothers have undergone surgery for serious heart conditions in recent years.  

'Their spirit and determination is inspiring' 

Speaking at the hospital, Penny said: “Christmas is a time for family and sharing special moments with loved ones at home but sadly for these children, many will spend it on the ward. I was incredibly moved to see these young children battling heart conditions in the lead-up to Christmas, but their spirit and determination is inspiring. It was a real honour to spend time with them.  

“It was also fascinating to learn about the pioneering research that the BHF is funding thanks to the public’s generosity, which will help transform the lives of children and adults, like the ones I met today, and people across the UK living with heart and circulatory disease. I would urge everyone to support the BHF’s Christmas Appeal to stop families being torn apart by heart and circulatory conditions like heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia.” 

'Helping to fund pioneering research'

Sonya added: “It’s incredible to have Penny’s support for the BHF’s Christmas Appeal. She surprised the children at The Royal Brompton and brought a smile to their faces, which is so nice to see, especially a couple of weeks before Christmas.  

“Due to pioneering advances in medicine and surgery most people born with a congenital heart condition will survive childhood but we need to do more to prevent premature heart failure and death in adults with congenital heart disease. The BHF have funded my research aiming to do precisely that by using MRI detection of heart scarring to better select who needs a defibrillator or another operation”  

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF said of Penny’s involvement: “Sadly, many families will be missing a loved one this Christmas because of heart and circulatory disease. But the kind support of Penny Lancaster will make a huge difference to our Christmas Appeal and together with the public’s support, help fund life saving research to stop families from having to go through the heartbreak of losing a loved one to heart and circulatory disease.”