South Yorkshire parents in protest to save heart unit

People power: People march through Leeds City Centre  in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.
People power: People march through Leeds City Centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.
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MOTHERS from South Yorkshire were part of an army of protesters who took to Leeds city centre to oppose the closure of a heart unit.

Parents from Sheffield and Rotherham addressed a crowd of almost 1,000 people to reveal the true impact of the proposed ending of paediatric heart services at Leeds General Infirmary.

Plans to shut the Leeds facility, which was one of three earmarked for closure following a review, mean families will be forced to travel to Newcastle for specialist services.

Demonstrators wore Children’s Heart Surgery Fund T-shirts and held banners and signs reading ‘SOS Save Our Surgery’ and ‘Don’t Break My Heart’ as they gathered before a march around Leeds city centre. Staff from the unit and MPs also took part in the protest.

Amy Brocklebank, aged 25, mum of 16-month-old Louis, made a speech on behalf of the people of Sheffield who face a five-hour round trip for appointments if proposals are given the go-ahead.

Amy, from Stannington, said: “It was absolutely amazing to see so many people there. I felt very proud. You don’t realise how many people it affects until you’re all gathered together. Every person knew exactly how you felt.

“I feel more optimistic about the future knowing we have that support behind us. I just really hope that the powers that be listen. They can’t ignore us now, or at least I hope they don’t.”

Cassie Symms, 30, from Dinnington, mother of 23-month-old Zander, spoke on behalf of people from Rotherham.

She said: “For us we face an eight-hour round trip. Liverpool is closer but people in Sheffield and Rotherham postcodes will have to go to Newcastle.

“There is a lot of strength and a lot of logic behind our argument. It feels like a positive step forward.”

The next step for campaigners is a protest at Downing Street, where children who have received care at Leeds will deliver to the Prime Minister a petition opposing the closure.

Do you think the Leeds Heart Unit should be saved? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk.