What is your name and when did you join the Sussex Heart Charity?
Hello, my name is Jason Palmer. I joined the Charity as a Volunteer advisor to the Board of Trustees as a lay person (2007/8) – a former civil servant and local businessman; I helped at fund raisers – Brighton Mayoral Charity events (the years when the charity was supported by the Mayors Charity arm) and helped promote events and took part (attended) as often as I could whilst managing two retail stores in central Brighton. The Sussex Heart Charity was then the Brighton Heart Support Trust. I formally became a Volunteer Director and Trustee a few years after the Sussex Heart Charity came into being; Vice Chair in 2014 working alongside supporting the Chair Andy Forsyth and later Dr Rachael James and Mike Lewis – I stepped up to the role of Chair during one of the most difficult times in Sussex Heart Charity history, from March 2020 (during the covid pandemic) until December 2022.
What is your background/profession? Notable achievements?
I am very much a local lad, I was born in Cuckfield in 1971 – grew up in Haywards Heath where I attended St Wilfreds Primary School and Warden Park School (Cuckfield) I was in the same year (and a handful of classes) as TV Producer/Presenter Richard Osman. We became a single parent family in 1983 – I am the oldest child of three boys. I later attended Haywards Heath Sixth Form and left college (‘86/87’) to find work. My father had a heart attack and died at the age of 40, mother died of cancer aged 65 in 2008. The loss of my father when so young and being the oldest child very much shaped who I am today. When I turned 39 I decided to mark my life (just in case!)
I trained (with a trainer) twice weekly – for 12 months to ensure I had the strength, stamina to Trek the Nepalese Valleys that lead to Mount Everest. I did reach Everest Base Camp (17,600 ft) ; this is about the same height as Mnt Kilimanjaro, on foot after a three week Trek – this marked my 40th birthday a few months later.
How do you use your skills/experience/knowledge to help the Sussex Heart Charity meet its charitable objectives?
IMPROVE, SUPPORT, FUND – that’s what we do. What I do is talk to people – I engage and spread the word! I write articles for local magazines and newspapers, from time to time press releases, I advise and occasionally lead major SHC events/initiatives/projects. As a former customer services supervisor and manager, civil servant and retail store owner/manager I have learnt communication, PR and Marketing skills and how to influence change. I am passionate about what SHC does and will tell anyone who will listen to me about where we have come from, what we do and want to do in the future. I have been involved in some shape or form with the Sussex Heart Charity for over ten years and for half this time working closely with the CEO Terry Ayres through some challenging times. I often explain how if you are a cardiac patient in Sussex you will almost certainly have met a member of staff we have supported through our educational bursary, received care/treatment within the NHS in a department or with equipment (staff too) supported/ provided -funded by SHC through our equipment or small grant fund. The information you receive on the ward as a cardiac patient is produced and paid for in many instances by SHC. The Phase 4 cardiac rehab class is supported by us. Maybe, just maybe…the AED that someone used to save your life when you collapsed outside the railway station, next to the church, the community centre – tennis courts, bowls club or whilst taking a stroll along the pier or through the park; was funded by the Sussex Heart Charity AED grant fund. I sit on several SHC committees and currently I am the chair of the Board of Trustees.
What are your aspirations for the Sussex Heart Charity?
I want the Sussex Heart Charity to truly be County wide – offering Grants to all hospitals, cardiac staff and communities across Sussex. To actively fundraise, seek out projects across Sussex to be in contact with hospitals(staff), community groups, cardiac patients and their families across East and West Sussex. SHC is bigger than Brighton & Hove; we want and need more people to know who we are and what we do for them as Sussex residents to realise that the Sussex Heart Charity is here for the County of Sussex – Saving – Lives – In – Sussex.
Why do you think the Sussex Heart Charity is worth supporting?
We are the one of the largest cardiac care charities in the County that no one has heard of! We are small, with a handful of staff – investing hundreds of thousands of pounds year in year out installing life saving defibrillators in the community – supporting and funding key staff , services (practical and informative) – cardiac patients their families and friends at the regional cardiac care centre based at the County Hospital, Brighton and across Sussex. Without practical support, funds – we can do nothing.