The Heart of the Matter!

The Friends of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, has just published a book that chronicles its amazing history since its formation in 1980.

The Friends of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, or FHFJ for short, is a London-based charitable organisation that sends a range of medical equipment to Jamaica to prevent and treat a range of cardio-vascular diseases in Jamaicans.

Its new book, ‘Taking Jamaica to Heart’, explores the origins of the charity, which was established by Jamaican-born Iris Gordon OD, a committed Christian, in response to the heart-related problems experienced by her brother, Stanley. Iris, who was born in the parish of St Thomas, Jamaica, came to Britain in 1962, settling in the London Borough of Wandsworth. She immediately found work in the healthcare sector, and worked at several hospitals.

In the late 1970s, Stanley suffered a heart attack in Jamaica and, on visiting him, Iris saw the need to support the Heart Foundation of Jamaica in its work throughout the island. Her intention was to show that as a Christian she was her brother’s keeper, and when she returned to London, she prayed about what she should do in response to this need. As a result, and with the assistance of her husband, Peter Gordon (also a committed Christian), and the Reverend Graham Hayles at her local church, St James in Streatham, south London, she committed herself to the establishment of an organisation that would ‘give heart to Jamaica’.

The FHFJ gained charitable status in 1984, with its key aims being to promote health education related to the heart and circulation, and to provide grants for education and training relevant to cardiology and other health-related disciplines in Jamaica.

The organisation has grown since the early days, and now has a sizeable number of members and supporters in London and across the country. It raises funds via events, such as garden parties, barbecues, walks, concerts, golf days and an annual black-tie ball. Moreover, members’ fees and donations from churches and community organisations also go toward helping those in Jamaica. While its work is primarily focused on Jamaica, the FHFJ supporters – many of whom are linked to the church – are British people of all races, and Black people with roots from across the Caribbean and Africa. Over the years, the charity has sent a number of vehicles (mobile units) to Jamaica, which have enabled the Heart Foundation of Jamaica to travel around the island, testing Jamaicans for blood pressure and other cardiovascular matters. Equally, the UK charity sponsors a health educator who visits schools and community groups, as a further way of disseminating information about healthy lifestyles. Those wanting to know more about this inspiring story can read the book, ‘Taking Jamaica to Heart’, which is published by Golden Grove Books, ISBN 978-1-3999-0270-0.

For more information about the book or the organisation, contact Lorna Green, Chairperson FHFJ, at fhfjamaica@gmail.com. 

Written by: Lorna Green

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