The driving force behind a charity that’s raised more than £2 million to keep the region’s Cardiothoracic Unit at the leading edge of patient care has been recognised with a Teesside Hero Award.
Welshman and adopted Teessider Dr Adrian Davies continues to run the South Cleveland Heart Fund nearly seven years after retiring from his role as head cardiologist for James Cook University Hospital.
Dr Davies moved to Teesside in 1980 when he was appointed physician cardiologist for the region, initially based at the former North Ormesby Cottage Hospital before switching to Middlesbrough’s South Cleveland Hospital – now known as James Cook Hospital – the following year.
He later oversaw the creation of the hospital’s pioneering regional cardiology centre which serves a population of 1.6 million people.
As the founder and chairman of South Cleveland Heart Fund since 1994, he has been the driving force behind £2 million raised to fund new equipment, new techniques, staff training and research to ensure the region’s cardiothoracic centre retains its world class reputation.
Only last year the fund completed a £1 million appeal for a state-of-the-art cardiac MRI scanner for the numerous heart patients attending the hospital from a region that stretches to Sunderland to the north, Scarborough to the south and Whitehaven to the west.
Dr Davies received his Teesside Hero Award at South Cleveland Heart Fund’s annual dinner when Teesside Philanthropic Foundation chairman Andy Preston presented him with a trophy, a meal voucher for Chadwicks Inn Maltby and £1,000 for the charity.
After receiving his award, Dr Davies – who will celebrate his 70th birthday in April – said a “sense of ownership and responsibility” had driven him to continue to lead fundraising to support the unit since his retirement.
“It’s my baby really,” he reflected. “My legacy was bringing the regional heart centre to Teesside.
“It meant that for the past quarter of a century we’ve had one of the country’s best heart units for the treatment of adults right here on Teesside.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that it has saved many lives across the Tees Valley and across the region.
“Such have been the advances that our regional heart centre has led on that nowadays if you’re having a heart attack, the ambulance service will do an ECG on the way and send it to the hospital ahead of your arrival so the unit is ready for you.
“You’ll then have your artery opened via primary angioplasty, so reducing heart attack mortality by 50 per cent.
“In addition, death rates from waiting lists were high and we’ve been able to bring those waiting lists right down.
“So we’ve earned world class reputation through a lot of hard work but the unit needs funding to remain at the leading edge of advances in heart patient care – and none of those funds are available from the NHS.”
Asked about his Teesside Hero Award, Dr Davies, who was born in the Rhonda in South Wales, said: “It’s a great honour and I accept it on behalf of the South Cleveland Heart Fund and all the volunteers who dedicate their spare time to it.
“I moved here in 1980 so I’m very much a Teessider now, as well as being a big fan of Middlesbrough FC, so I’m proud and humbled to receive such an award.
“Ultimately, what I’d like to be remembered for is getting the regional centre to Teesside and encouraging some brilliant people to come and work with me and share the dream – and then encouraging so many people to support this wonderful heart fund.”
South Cleveland Heart Fund’s most recent donation was £156,000 to replace the hospital’s crucial echocardiogram reporting and archiving system.
Other major donations have included a £70,000 workstation for cardiac MRI scanning, £110,000 Nav-X for treatment of heart rhythm disorders, £90,000 portable echocardiograph machine, £54,000 for an ultrasound system for the cardiac theatres and £150,000 bursaries for the training of registrars.