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Southampton-Based Cardiac Charity Raises £25,000 at Prestigious Heartbeat Autumn Ball

(Mark Ind, CEO of Heartbeat and his wife, Suzie Ind)

Southampton-based cardiac charity, Heartbeat raised more than £25,000 (after costs) at its prestigious Heartbeat Autumn Ball.

Held at the Leonardo Royal Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton on Saturday, November 11th, the event brought together people from across the region for an evening of charity, entertainment, and heartfelt generosity.

The celebratory ball, organised by the leading cardiac charity, featured a delightful three-course meal, live music, a silent auction, and a main auction boasting exclusive items, and was hosted by top comedian and entertainer, Aaron James.

Some highlights of the auction included unique experiences such as a round of golf with legendary ex-Saints footballer James Beattie, a patron of Heartbeat, and tickets for an exclusive dinner cooked by TV chef James Tanner at the renowned Violin Factory in London, which has been featured on Grand Designs.

Heartbeat, the charity behind this successful event, focuses on supporting individuals of all ages diagnosed with congenital and cardiovascular diseases.

The funds raised from the Autumn Ball will directly contribute to the charity's pioneering research and projects including funding two pilot NHS roles; a palliative care nurse and a cardiac psychological youth worker.

The charity's CEO, Mark Ind, first started the event long before becoming the CEO. The first ball was back in 2003 and was originally called, ‘The Mark Ind Annual Beef and Bid’. This was the 19th year he has hosted the event which has raised in excess of £150,000 over the years.

Mark spoke of why he first started the event, he said: “My son Alex, at just a few days old became blue and breathless and was rushed back into Winchester Hospital, where he was born. It was thought at that point that he had a very serious heart condition.”

On subsequent admission to the University Hospital Southampton, Alex was diagnosed with a blocked pulmonary valve, two holes in his heart, and a faulty ventricle as well as having all his organs the wrong way round.

Major open-heart surgery followed when Alex was just 14 months, eight years old, 17 years old and again in 2019 when Alex contracted an infection which led to sepsis, infecting his heart chamber.

Mark said: “I was in the hospitality industry at that point and wanted to do something for Heartbeat and knew an event would be a great way to raise some money. Its grown significantly since its inception in 2003, attracting 270 attendees this year.

"I'm always quite overwhelmed and always grateful for people's desire to come along and be involved, and I’m blown away by people’s generosity."

Mark's son, Alex, now 25, is still under the watchful eye of the Wessex Cardiac Unit and he represents the next generation of young people actively participating in the charity's aim to raise awareness as well as funds to improve heart health.

Mark said: "Both my children, Holly and Alex filled a number of the tables and I'm incredibly proud that as young people they know the importance of heart health and that they want to make a difference. And after all, everyone has a heart!"

The funds raised not only contribute to research and specific projects but also money raised goes to Heartbeat House, a facility run by the charity, providing free accommodation to families of patients undergoing serious heart surgery or interventions at the Wessex Cardiac Unit. This facility, situated near the University Hospital Southampton, is a lifeline for families, including those who travel from right across the South of England for treatment in one of the UKs leading cardiac centres of excellence.

The event was sponsored by Barratt David Wilson Homes (BDW) Southampton division, a leading housebuilder, Tammy Bishop, Barratt Homes Sales Director, said: “It’s important that we show our support for organisations who need it in the communities in which we’re building, and we’re thrilled to be supporting Heartbeat’s special fundraising ball.

“The charity is a great support to heart patients and their families across the region, and it’s great to hear how much money was raised this evening.”

The Heartbeat Autumn Ball has already been scheduled in for next year, “Mark’s 20th” and he said: “Put November 9th in the diary for 2024, as it’s going to be great and we had someone buy up a table before this event had even happened!”

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