Heidi Watson joined the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund as CEO on Monday July 11, replacing Sharon Milner who led the charity for 16 years.
Heidi has 20 years of experience at the director and CEO level.
It started in the private sector, where she led social impact projects, but for the past 13 years she has worked solely as a leader in the charitable sector.
Throughout her career, Heidi has led projects and organizations that support both adults and children facing a range of circumstances that have made them vulnerable or socially excluded.
Prior to joining CHSF, she was Director of Services at SHINE, supporting people affected by spina bifida and hydrocephalus in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and their families.
Speaking to YEP, Heidi said: “I am delighted to have joined the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund as CEO.
“It’s a wonderful thing to know that the charity I now lead is saving lives every day, supporting the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit (LCHU), a world-class center of excellence.
“Your donations will continue to ensure they have talented, well-trained staff and the latest equipment to detect congenital heart disease and perform life-saving surgery.
The CHSF funds facilities, equipment, training and roles that the NHS cannot provide – through your fundraising.
“This allows LCHU to optimally treat the 17,000 babies, children and adults with congenital heart disease who pass through the unit each year. Plus, our support workers are there for families going through the emotional roller coaster of seeing their babies and children go through surgeries and treatments.
“The accommodation, financial and emotional support we provide ensures that parents can be there for their children, day and night, and we can be there for the whole family.”
Since its inception in 1988, CHSF has awarded more than £10 million in grants to LCHU, its patients and their families, as well as funding major research proposals.
“I look forward to leading this charity into the next stage of its development,” added Heidi.
“My aim is to increase our annual fundraising year on year to enable us to offer more support than ever, to extend our connection to all families and adults in Yorkshire, North East Lincolnshire and of the Humber affected by congenital heart disease and to expand our support worker service so that we can be there for patients attending LCHU at any stage of their health journey.
“I am grateful to each of you who help with our fundraising efforts, we couldn’t do what we do every year without you and we make every pound you raise count.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to also thank all of the wonderful corporate donors, as well as funders of trusts and foundations who have supported the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund over the years.
“I really look forward to working with all of you in the future and ensuring that you experience with us the huge impact your donations have in saving the lives of babies, children and adults. .
“Together we can give them the chance to experience all that life has to offer.”
To find out more about CHSF, donate or get involved, visit chsf.org.uk.