The legacy of an Edinburgh shopkeeper proved to be the foundation for a star-studded charity campaign aiming to combat heart disease in Scotland.
The Heart of Scotland campaign, launched in the capital today by Heart Research UK, has been backed by a host of stars, as well as politicians and medical professionals.
With a shocking 41 people dying every day from cardiovascular disease, the initiative was kick-started by the donation, coupled with the charity’s funds.
Close to £400,000 of medical research has been funded this year alone in Scottish universities and hospitals, and the new appeal hopes to raise funds as well as awareness of heart disease to help the breakthroughs of the future.
Central to the appeal is a range of four striking coloured badges and one-of-a-kind t-shirts designed by Scots designer Christopher Kane.
Kane said: “The Heart of Scotland appeal is a cause that is literally so close to my heart, anything that can raise awareness and potentially save lives is always worthwhile.
“Growing up in Scotland in a working class environment, heart disease was always prevalent. So many of my parent’s family and friends passed at an early age from “heart attacks” and no one blinked an eye.
“So it’s good to be part of (albeit in a small way) educating and reinforcing preventive measures, this saves so much heart ache.”
The appeal already has considerable high profile support from key figures from the worlds of entertainment, music and sport, including the likes of Amy Macdonald, David Moyes, Val McDermid, Neil Oliver and Rory Bremner.
As well as celebrity backing, the appeal has support from both the Scottish and UK Governments.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Heart disease affects far too many people across Scotland and we need to do all we can to help combat the disease. This is why I welcome Heart of Scotland and commend everyone involved in its work.
“By business, government and civic society coming together and combining our efforts, we can make a real difference to lives across Scotland, and I am sure the Heart of Scotland appeal will be a great success.”
In a video message to the launch event, David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “The Heart of Scotland campaign is a very important initiative. We want to make sure that we can not just raise awareness but raise funds, do the necessary research, reduce those figures and give everybody, even if they’ve got a heart condition, a better life chance.”
The appeal includes a dedicated week of fundraising and celebrations, building up to 21 June 2019, the longest day of the year.
The money raised in Scotland will be spent in Scotland, funding pioneering medical research in to the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.
Ramsay Jones, who is part of the team behind the campaign, said: “I was barely a teenager when my dad died. But my personal story of coming home from school to hear that news is probably a story that everyone in this room can tell about somebody they know, in their family or friends. It’s all too prevalent.
“It’s been amazing to see Christopher and the celebrities coming out and backing the appeal, and this is only the launch.”
Barbara Harpham, Heart Research UK Chief Executive, added: “Most people in Scotland will have been touched by heart disease, the nation’s single biggest killer. The Heart of Scotland appeal is an opportunity for Scots to take on heart disease together.
“We want this campaign to reach ever corner of the country, Highlands and Islands, Lowlands, coast and country, and raise money to fund pioneering medical research in Scotland’s hospitals and universities.
“The fact is, you are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease in Scotland than you are in the South-east of England. This needs to change and we need Scotland’s help.”
To support the campaign, text ‘Heart’ to 88080 to buy a badge. Visit www.heartresearch.org.uk for more information