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Guernsey Art Exhibition raises funds for heart charity

Leading Hampshire cardiac charity, Heartbeat, has always had a long reach, helping patients and their families as far away as the Channel Islands. Now, the partner of a cardiac patient has given back by organising and providing the artwork for an exhibition, with all funds raised going to Heartbeat.

Jacquelyn Erskine, who lives in Guernsey, stayed at Rotary Heartbeat House in January while her fiancé Mark Fallaize underwent a quadruple heart bypass.

Jaki has now raised nearly £8,000 for the charity that provides a place to stay for family members of heart patients having surgery in Southampton.

Heartbeat, among many projects and life-saving research, helps with accommodation for people diagnosed with congenital and cardiovascular diseases and is located next to the Wessex Cardiac Unit based at University Hospital Southampton.

Jaki, who spent a week staying at the house, said: "It is such an amazing place. The thought of having to pay for accommodation for a substantial amount of time while a loved one is in hospital is daunting, and not just because of the financial impact.

“When you have a family member or partner undergoing treatment you often feel quite alone and scared. But because I stayed at Heartbeat House, I got to know many other people going through the same thing.

“After an afternoon spent visiting loved ones at the hospital, we would all come together for a chat. It was really quite therapeutic. I’m still in touch with a few of the people I met during my stay.”

Jaki was so touched by her time spent with the charity that she curated and sold a number of art pieces in her 'heARTbeat' exhibition at the George Crossan Gallery in Guernsey.

Last year 25% of the families that stayed in Heartbeat House came from Guernsey. Head of Business and Donor Development, Tina Tolley said: “We are here for whoever needs us. We often find that people think the charity is here just to support local people in the Wessex region, but our door is always open. We’ve had many families from Guernsey, many of whom we now call our friends. But we’ve also had families from as far as Scotland and even abroad, you never know where you will be at a time of need and we are proud to offer this service.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Jaki for her fundraising efforts. The work of our fundraisers and supporters is crucial to us as a charity, enabling us to continue to support the families of people affected by heart disease.”

Jaki said: “Mark has made a marvellous recovery, and I was so grateful to the charity that I knew I had to do something. The exhibition was a huge hit – we sold more than 50% of the paintings. It was hard work, but incredibly rewarding. My daughter, Amelia, contributed some of her art, and my son, Fraiser, designed the banner to advertise the exhibition. The whole community also came together to support it. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone that helped.”

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