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Sheffield woman first in her family to live beyond the age of 40 backs Heart of Steel charity campaign

A Sheffield woman who is the first person in her family to survive beyond the age of 40 has backed a charity campaign to fund life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.

Kim Hoare, aged 49, from Hunter’s Bar, inherited a condition from her mum’s side of the family which causes high cholesterol from birth, and caused three generations to suffer fatal heart attacks at an early age.

Kim Hoare.

Kim Hoare.

Her mum, Barbara Bicker, passed away from a heart attack aged just 39, when Kim was nine-years-old, leaving Kim to be brought up by family friends and in care.

Kim’s diagnosis was confirmed when she was offered a genetic test in 2015, and soon after she learnt that her children Stan, aged 17, and Daisy, aged 14, also had the same condition.

However, thanks to advances in treatment largely funded by the British Heart Foundation, all three can now look forward to a much longer life.

She said: “Sadly, I’m just one of millions of families who have lost someone to heart and circulatory disease, but I’m living proof that this doesn’t have to be the case.”

The unveiling of the Heart of Steel at Meadowhall. Pictured is artist Steve Mehdi, former steel worker Terry Mansell and Meadowhall Centre Marketing Director Richard Pinfold. Picture: Chris Etchells

The unveiling of the Heart of Steel at Meadowhall. Pictured is artist Steve Mehdi, former steel worker Terry Mansell and Meadowhall Centre Marketing Director Richard Pinfold. Picture: Chris Etchells

“The only reason I’m probably alive today is because I’ve been prescribed statins, which lower cholesterol levels.

“My children are also on statins, which I’m incredibly thankful for, as my mum and the generations before her never had this treatment.

“Without statins, our whole family faces an uncertain future – my children might not have a mother or the chance of a real future.”

Kim said that before her diagnosis, she had come to accept the fact that she’d probably continue her family’s pattern of dying at an early age.

The unveiling of the Heart of Steel at Meadowhall. Picture: Chris Etchells.

The unveiling of the Heart of Steel at Meadowhall. Picture: Chris Etchells.

As she approached the age of 39, she revealed she felt ‘incredibly nervous’ - as that was the age that her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had died - and had often felt like there was a ‘ticking time bomb’ inside her.

Now she is calling on everyone get their name or the name of a loved one engraved on the Heart of Steel sculpture at Meadowhall in aid of the British Heart Foundation, so more people can get the life-saving help she has had.

The Heart of Steel, which has been designed by former steel worker turned sculptor Steve Mehdi, can be seen at Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield.

It stands at 2.4 metres high and has around 150,000 spaces for people to make a touching tribute to parents, grandparents, siblings or best friends - for a donation of £20.

Donations will help the British Heart Foundation fund life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases, conditions which currently kill 1 in 4 people in the UK.

Nicola Jones, Fundraising Manager at the BHF, added: “Heart and circulatory disease devastates the lives of millions of families like Kim’s.

“In fact, 13,500 people lose their lives to these conditions each year in Yorkshire alone.

“That’s why we are asking people to be a part of history by permanently etching their name, or the name of a loved one, on the Heart of Steel, which will help us beat heartbreak forever through life saving research.”

To find out more about the Heart of Steel, visit www.bhf.org.uk/heartofsteel.