TWO volunteers touched by tragedy have been rewarded for their devotion to a healthy heart charity.
Jim Machin and Carol Roper are both members of the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Sunderland branch.
Jim, who is chairman of the branch, has been made Community Area Volunteer of the Year 2014 after almost 40 years with charity.
He joined after the sad death of his first-born son, Ian James, who was born with congenital heart disease.
Sadly, another son died of the same heart condition at only two days old.
Jim and wife June have a daughter, Andrea, who has also raised money in a variety of ways over the years, most notably when she did a sponsored trip to Santiago de Campastile, in Spain.
Jim, 72, of Roker, said: “I’m very pleased to be nominated because I had no idea about it.
“I’ll have been involved with the branch for 40 years next year and it’s a long time.
Jim added: “We joined because we lost the two boys to congenital heart disease within four years of each other.
“June and I always think that if there was the help that we have now, we’d have been able to save at least one of them.”
Carol is now Schools Champion for the BHF. Her aim is to contact schools, colleges and other groups with a view to making use of the events the charity has to offer, such as heart health education, which looks at healthy eating and diet, as childhood obesity continues to be a huge problem for areas such as Sunderland.
She will also be encouraging exercise in the form of the Artie’s Olympics, which is for nursery children, as well as jump-rope and dodgeball activities for infants up to juniors.
Carol, of Pennywell, has been a volunteer for the past 17 years after her husband Michael, who is branch secretary, began to suffer from heart problems.
However, when she was just 10 years old her brother, Albert, died from heart complications, while her first husband, John, passed away after suffering from heart disease.
“Sunderland has been crying out for a champion because it’s vital that children learn about heart disease, being healthy and eating well,” said Carol, 60.
“It’ll be great for me to go into schools and educate youngsters about these things.”
Schools wanting to work with Carol should email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
•For more details about the branch, which is always on the lookout for new volunteers, call Michael Roper on 534 2767.