The Jewish Chronicle
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”.