The Jewish Chronicle

Alec Bloom

- JOHN FISHER Heart Disease · Health Conditions · Leeds United A.F.C. · Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire · Devon · Jack Charlton · Queens · London · Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon · Cliff Richard · United Kingdom · Doncaster · Leeds · Voluntary Sector · United States of America · Paris · Japan · South Africa · Queens Hotel · Chatsworth · Nostell · Jill Dando · Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy · Eddie Gray · Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

THE FOUNDER of the suc­cess­ful Hos­pi­tal Heart­beat Ap­peal, Alec Bloom put his soul into rais­ing £3 mil­lion for adults who had un­der­gone heart by­pass surgery. He re­ceived the MBE in 2003.

Buoy­ing up the chil­dren’s heart surgery at Leeds’ Killing­beck Hos­pi­tal in 1989, he formed a fundrais­ing sup­port group called the Friends of Killing­beck Hos­pi­tal. Af­ter its ini­tial suc­cess he was asked by lead­ing car­di­ol­o­gists to raise money for pa­tients fol­low­ing heart by­pass op­er­a­tions there.

He de­vel­oped the con­cept of the Heart­beat Ap­peal and asked the then Duke of Devon­shire to be its pres­i­dent.

Aim­ing to bol­ster the fight against heart disease, Alec and Heart­beat as­pired to raise aware­ness of how to avoid the risk of heart at­tack. He in­vited Bar­bara Tay­lor Brad­ford and Sir Jack Charl­ton to be Heart­beat’s first pa­trons

Their first event was a civic din­ner at the Queens Ho­tel in Leeds, which raised £40,000. Alec, by now the face of the Hos­pi­tal Heart­beat Ap­peal, re­ceived a re­quest from Brad­ford Royal In­fir­mary to raise funds for an an­giog­ra­phy suite.

In or­der to raise £250,000 for this fa­cil­ity, Bloom, backed by col­leagues, em­barked on sev­eral high-fly­ing fundrais­ing events. Th­ese in­cluded a 1994 clas­si­cal con­cert in the grounds of Chatsworth House which at­tracted 9,000 peo­ple and raised £65,000. A sim­i­lar amount was reached from a con­cert the fol­low­ing year at Nostell Pri­ory.

A royal pre­miere of the 1996 mu­si­cal The Good­bye Girl at Lon­don’s Al­bery The­atre, in the pres­ence of Princess Mar­garet, was hosted by the late broad­caster and Heart­beat pa­tron Jill Dando, while a per­sonal ap­pear­ance by Sir Cliff Richard hugely boosted funds at a 1999 con­cert at the Queens Ho­tel. His staunch ef­forts helped Alec reached his tar­get and Heart­beat con­firmed its com­mit­ment to Brad­ford Royal In­fir­mary, hand­ing over the promised £250,000.

More fundrais­ers fol­lowed this suc­cess, start­ing with the Brian Close Clas­sic, a golf event staged the fol­low­ing year. Close, a staunch ally of Heart­beat, put his weight be­hind the event which ran for 13 years and brought in a stag­ger­ing £300,000.

The MBE was fol­lowed by a pres­ti­gious health-care award, the Badge of the Or­der of Mercy, made by the League of Mercy Foun­da­tion to hon­our the work of pub­lic-spir­ited vol­un­teers in the UK. Alec be­gan co-or­di­nat­ing another string of events with all guns blaz­ing. Three years later he made a re­mark­able re­cov­ery from a suc­cess­ful sec­ond by­pass op­er­a­tion and soon or­gan­ised a race day at Don­caster, which be­came an es­tab­lished fundraiser held at the course for five years.

A new Heart­beat car­diac unit was opened at Leeds Gen­eral In­fir­mary and an Ed­die Gray Golf Club Clas­sic fol­lowed one year later.

Run en­tirely by the vol­un­tary sec­tor, Alec was proud that the Ap­peal al­ways main­tained a pro­fes­sional ap­proach.

The youngest of four chil­dren, Alec was ed­u­cated at Cow­per Street school. He never for­got his 1939 Bar Mitz­vah, which was held on the day the Sec­ond World War was de­clared.

Five years later, on his birth­day, Alec was called up for mil­i­tary ser­vice. Af­ter be­ing de­mobbed he and one of his brothers set up a cloth­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness which grew into an in­ter­na­tional com­pany with the brothers mar­ket­ing all over the world.

With con­sid­er­able el­e­gance and charm, Alecpro­mot­edthe­mer­chan­dise of his busi­ness, and be­came a jet-set­ter, trav­el­ling to Amer­ica, Paris, Ja­pan, Cologne and South Africa. He met his fu­ture wife Miriam at a Sun­day evening Ju­bilee Hall dance in 1948 and they mar­ried in 1950. They had two sons.

By the time Heart­beat’s work was wound down in 2012 it had raised over £3 mil­lion for heart pa­tients across York­shire.

An an­nual award was set up as Alec, to­gether with car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Gor­don Wil­liams, be­gan the scheme to recog­nise car­diac phys­i­ol­o­gists and skilled clin­i­cians who de­tect, ac­cess and mea­sure heart dis­or­ders.

Linda Pol­lard, Chair of Leeds Teach­ing Hos­pi­tals NHS Trust, said: “”Over the past two decades Alec was the face of the Heart­beat Ap­peal and in­spired their drive to buy car­diac equip­ment for hos­pi­tals in Leeds, which is in ev­ery­day use at Leeds Gen­eral In­fir­mary and de­liv­er­ing life-sav­ing care for heart pa­tients”.


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