A REMARKABLE teenager is to be this year’s voice of the British Heart Foundation Appeal, following in the footsteps of Stephen Fry and Michael Parkinson.
Charlotte Thornett’s message on behalf of the heart charity will be broadcast on Radio Four on Sunday, May 4 and Thursday, May 8.
The 19-year-old’s mother, Lorraine, suffered permament damage to her health following a heart attack almost 10 years ago.
Charlotte, of Garron Lane, South Ockendon, caught the charity’s attention for the way she helped her family cope in the aftermath and was picked to front this year’s appeal - an honour normally bestowed upon some of the country’s biggest stars.
Her appeal will raise awareness of heart failure and the research the BHF’s Mending Broken Hearts Appeal funds to find a cure for the condition.
Charlotte, a student at Canterbury Christchurch University told the Gazette, said: “I guess i’ve been asked because of the passion and positivity we have shown towards the charity. I’m so passionate about what they do.
“I feel like I owe it to them, given everything they have done for us.”
Charlotte’s mum suffered a heart attack having had no previous heart problems in 2005.
Now, Lorraine, 50, who works at Dilkes Primary School, South Ockendon, struggles to do the things most people take for granted like carrying the shopping or walking for long periods.
Reliving the fateful night in 2005, when Charlotte was just 10 and her brother, James, seven, Charlotte said: “We were round my aunt’s in Orsett when my Mum got really sick. She had also had chest pains the week before. She knew something wasn’t right but she didn’t want to scare us.
“My aunt took her to Basildon Hospital and when they got to A&E, my mum just collapsed and her heart stopped. Doctors spent three to four minutes resuscitating her.
“She came around but when my auntie told us what had happened, I told my brother and we moved in with my aunt for seven weeks.
“We didn’t visit - which was hard - but she didn’t want us to see her as she was. The whole time we were thinking ‘what’s going on, is she ok?’.”
Lorraine was just 41 at the time and going through a divorce. The doctors put the attack - which almost took her life - down to stress and worry.
Charlotte added: “We got in touch with the British Heart Foundation and they did therapy and offered us lots of advice.”
And now, fronting the pioneering heart charity’s annual appeal is the least Charlotte feels she can do. But being at BBC’s Broadcasting House in London proved quite an experience when the appeal was recorded recently.
The teenager even bumped into Radio One’s breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw in the corridor.
“It was amazing. I didn’t want the day to end.”
*The BBC Radio 4 Appeal airs on Sunday, May 4, at 7.55am and 9.26pm, and on Thursday, May, 8 at 3.27pm