FEATURE20 November 2017

Hearts and minds

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Charities Features Healthcare Impact People UK

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, is keen to move past ‘finger-wagging’ approaches and towards building positive engagement with stakeholders. He talks to Jane Simms about how the charity is working to achieve this


People who’ve been touched by heart disease, cancer or multiple sclerosis (MS) are often inspired to run a marathon to raise funds for a relevant charity; Simon Gillespie was inspired to run the charity itself. Chief executive of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) since 2013 – and, before that, head of the MS Society for seven years – he believes ‘affinity with the cause’ is important. 

“My aunt had MS when I was growing up, and I saw the impact it had on her and my cousins as she deteriorated, ” he says. “That spoke to me. I didn’t set out to be the chief executive of the MS Society, but when the job came up, it was too good an opportunity to miss.” 

Similarly, during Gillespie’s first year at university, his father died from a heart attack the day before his 58th birthday. “That gives me a very personal link into the sudden devastation ...