British Heart Foundation Chief Executive Simon Gillespie has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours, recognising his services to patients and medical research.
Simon joined the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as Chief Executive in 2013, following seven years as Chief Executive of the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. He has a family connection with heart disease, and continues to both fundraise and volunteer for the BHF.
Under Simon’s leadership, the BHF has grown to become one of the largest charities in the UK. It funds more than half of all research carried out at UK universities into heart and circulatory diseases, such as heart failure, stroke and vascular dementia, together with risk factors including diabetes and high blood pressure.
In response to the announcement, Simon Gillespie said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have received the honour of an OBE. This award is also a recognition of the amazing medical research and innovation work of the BHF, and the positive difference this makes to the lives of millions of people in the UK and globally. Thank you to the many colleagues and friends who I have worked with throughout my career for their support and encouragement.”
Innovation and transformation
As one of the world’s largest non-profit funders of heart and circulatory disease research, the BHF has a global profile and its work saves and improves lives across the world seeking to turn scientific discovery from research into outcomes that benefit patients. At any time, the BHF funds over 1,000 projects with an annual investment of over £100m; from PhD students to professors; from basic science to clinical studies; from molecular biology to data science and artificial intelligence; from multi-national collaborations to smaller local studies.
Simon has ensured that the BHF promotes innovation and transformation in healthcare by working closely with the NHS across the UK. From the application of emerging technologies to assisting re-design of services, the BHF focuses on the needs of patients through engagement and involvement in all areas of its work.
Simon’s early career was in the Royal Navy, including command of HMS Sheffield and advising government ministers. From 2000 to 2004, he was Director of Operations at the Charity Commission. He then moved to become Director of Operations at the Healthcare Commission, where he was responsible for the inspection of NHS and independent healthcare facilities in England.
Richly deserved recognition
Simon has extensive national and international experience of charity and non-profit governance as a non-executive director/trustee. He chairs the Government’s ‘Large Charities Group’. He is a Board member of the World Heart Federation. He was President of the European Heart Network between 2015 and 2019 and has been re-elected to serve on the Board. He is a member of the NHS Assembly and co-chairs the NHS England cardiovascular disease Long Term Plan Delivery Group. Simon was named as the UK’s CEO of the Year in 2018 by CEO Today magazine.
Dr Doug Gurr, Chair of Trustees of the BHF, said: “Simon has been an absolutely phenomenal champion for the British Heart Foundation and all of us here are thrilled to see his extraordinary contribution over many years recognised in this honour.”
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the BHF, said: “This is a richly deserved recognition of Simon’s great contribution to patients and medical research. He is an inspirational leader and all of us at the British Heart Foundation are absolutely delighted that he has received this national honour.”
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