At the age of 16 while I was away at boarding school, I lost my father to a heart attack. He was only 53 years old and it was a complete shock.
My father had high cholesterol but chose not to take medication for the disease. He always enjoyed good health but was very careful with his diet, exercised and did not drink or smoke.
High cholesterol runs in my family. My grandmother has high cholesterol. She has suffered two heart attacks but is still alive and takes statins. Due to the family history, my cholesterol levels were checked. They were higher than normal but not within the threshold for taking statins. I now understand that my family condition is called familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH for short. It is an inherited condition which causes abnormally high cholesterol, putting people at much greater risk of heart attack or stroke, if left untreated. People with FH are usually prescribed daily statins. It is caused by a faulty gene that can be passed down through families.
Unsurprisingly, social media is where I found out more about the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Having previously worked in the Rankin Studio, I saw that he was doing a campaign for the charity called ‘Heart For A Heart’, encouraging people to submit their own heart inspired artwork. The posts caught my attention and I was intrigued to learn more about the charity, where I came across the CEO of BHF, Simon Gillespie’s blog. His story resonated with my own experience as his father also died unexpectedly of a heart attack just before his 58th birthday. By reading about Simon’s own high cholesterol and involvement in the 100,000 Genomes Project, I felt very moved and inspired by his honest experience and got in touch to see how I could get involved with the charity.
I was keen to fuse my working life as a model and help raise awareness to younger people on the importance of keeping a healthy heart. With over 750 shops nationwide, it made sense to go into my local BHF shop in Dorking and showcase the great range of items - new and donated - which can easily become wardrobe staples or statement pieces. This was my first time at a BHF shop and I was instantly struck with the great selection of items on offer, the variety of sizes and the clean layout. It didn’t feel like any other charity shop I’d been into before. There was minimal fuss and it was well presented. I was met by the shop manager who was warm and attentive. My style is relaxed and I often use accessories to make my outfits pop. There were some real gems I found including some blue velvet boots, several high waisted skirts which had the 60’s vibe I’m so into, the most gorgeous sequinned gold dress which I’ll definitely be wearing to my next party and I even found the perfect Christmas jumper – a must at the family dinner table this year.
The whole experience was great and changed my pre-conceived ideas of charity shops. I didn’t quite know what to expect before I walked in but there were heaps of stylish and glam items which fitted into my daily lifestyle perfectly at super affordable price tags. There is no doubt I’ll be popping back regularly for more bargain finds and even bringing my friends along.
As an Official Ambassador for BHF, I am learning more and more about FH. This has made me very aware of the condition and I am determined to keep this condition under control by learning as much as possible about it. Working with the BHF is a wonderful way for me to pass on my knowledge to my followers and peers while educating them about heart disease and circulatory disease which causes more than a quarter of deaths in the UK, equalling a death every 3 minutes.
The BHF shops are a great way for the public to support this cause. Not only do profits from every item bought go towards their life saving heart research but customers can add gorgeous new items to their wardrobes at a fraction of the original price.
I’m so excited to be working with this inspiring organisation to spread awareness of heart disease as a silent killer. There is nothing better than using my platform to highlight important causes, especially those close to my heart.