An “inspirational” north-east mother who has raised tens of thousands of pounds to combat heart disease has been honoured with a prestigious national charity award.
Inverurie resident Margaret ‘Mags’ McWilliam has worked tiredly to raise money for the BHF since the day her prematurely-born daughter, Jade, went into cardiac arrest at just 15 days old and had to have life-saving surgery.
She is understood to be the smallest baby in the UK to survive open heart surgery.
Jade, now 19, is a third-year nursing student and hopes to soon qualify as a cardiac nurse.
Her mum’s own dedication to the cause ever since the life-saving medical intervention has now led to her being presented with recognition as the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Charity Champion at its Heart Hero Awards ceremony.
Mrs McWilliam, 46, said: “We’ve obviously seen the tragic side of the heart as a family.
“We’ve been affected quite deeply by heart disease and Jade is the main reason why I do it and help other heart-warriors and their children.
“I actually love doing it. I’m very passionate about volunteering for the BHF because I’ve suffered quite a few illnesses myself.
“I’m no longer able to work like I used to, so it gives me a reason to get up in the morning.”
Mrs McWilliam, who set up the BHF’s Kintore, Kemnay and District fundraising group, also managed to train 700 people in vital CPR techniques before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those she has trained include young children and school students.
“I do think it’s important that everybody knows how to do it,” Mrs McWilliam said.
“We’ve undertaken training with a load of primary school and academy children. Covid-19 has obviously put us back a bit but it’s an on-going project.
“We find that a lot of adults are scared to do CPR, but children are a bit more eager and it’s important to know because heart disease is still a huge killer.”
Mrs McWilliam added she was “shocked” to receive the charity prize, but described it as “wonderful”.
She said: “In a nutshell the British Heart Foundation means the world to me. Without it, I wouldn’t have my precious daughter Jade.
“I really love helping other people and giving them a future they might not otherwise have had if the BHF wasn’t here.”