How we began
The people who were instrumental in the formation of CREW Heart Support Group were all initially Cardiac Rehabilitation Patients, many of them from the late 1980’s and heart attack victims with a proportion of bypasses from the mid 1990’s.
We started our group in response to our (now) President’s idea that we should start a walking group. This was so successful that we incorporated this into the exercise sessions, at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax.
In late 1999 following funding and planned resource cut backs, we decided to formalise our own voluntary constituted group and affiliate to the British Heart Foundation as an accredited Heart Support Group.
In 2000/01 CREW was formed with an elected Officer base and executive committee of most of those that backed the initiative in the first place. A member thought of our name CREW which is Cardiac Rehabilitation through Exercise and Walking.
From a start base of 47 members in our first year, 384 in 2009, we now have over 650 members
We started our second group at Brighouse in October 2006. Brighouse is now a stand alone Heart Support Group called Heartbeat
In 2008 we opened our third location, Todmorden at the Sports Centre. The official opening on 23 October 2008 by Deputy Mayor, David O’Neil. We have now extended our exercise classes to include the Fielden Centre. CREW became a registered charity in 2012 and in 2015 a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO); registration number 1163338
Our message has gone far and wide through Parliament via our patrons Chris McCafferty, (retired MP), and current MP Craig Whittaker, in Calderdale via our patronage from the hospital cardiologists Tim Bloomer and Simon Grant plus patron for the Todmorden area Dr Dinesh Kumar.
The partnerships we have with voluntary organisations, Calderdale PCT and Council Leisure Services has enabled the growth of the work undertaken to benefit people who have suffered some trauma based on cardiovascular problems. Diabetic patients are now included due to the at-risk nature of future cardiac problems.
After working closely with the Better Living Team (formally known as Upbeat)(CMBC/NHS Exercise Referral Scheme) for several years CREW, in 2014, took responsibility for six exercise classes previously provided by The Better Living Service formally known as Upbeat. Since then CREW have developed a list of exercise classes within the area of Calderdale that are all run by highly experienced instructors .
Our Aims and Objectives
Promote Heart Health:
- Raise awareness about the importance of regular physical activity in maintaining heart health.
- Encourage a heart-healthy lifestyle through walking and other forms of exercise.
- Foster a sense of community and connection among individuals interested in promoting heart health.
- Create a supportive network for individuals affected by heart-related issues.
- Provide educational resources on heart health, including information on risk factors, prevention, and management.
- Organise workshops and seminars on topics related to cardiovascular health.
- Ensure inclusivity by welcoming individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and fitness levels to participate in the walking group and social events.
Physical Activity Advocacy:
- Advocate for the benefits of regular physical activity in preventing heart-related illnesses within the local community.
Collaboration and Partnerships:
- Establish partnerships with healthcare professionals, organisations, and local businesses to enhance the support and resources available to the community.
Organise Regular Walks:
- Host weekly walking events to encourage physical activity and provide a platform for social interacti
- Plan social gatherings to strengthen community bonds and provide emotional support for individuals affected by heart-related issues.
- Develop and maintain an online platform with resources, articles, and tools related to heart health for the community.
Promotion and Outreach:
- Implement a marketing strategy to raise awareness of CREW Heart Support and attract new participants.
- Recruit and train volunteers to assist with organising events, leading walks, and providing support to community members.
Evaluation and Impact Assessment:
- Regularly assess the impact of the charity’s activities on the physical and mental well-being of participants.
- There are no membership fees.
- Membership is open to anyone wishing to improve their health status to reduce the risks of circulatory and heart disease risks.
- Membership ages 18+
John and Bernard McDonald were founder members of CREW, this came about because approximately 26 years ago, John suffered a heart attack. He recovered well from that but soon after he had a cardiac arrest. During his recovery, along with Bernard and several other patients, they realized from the help the cardiac nurses, rehabilitation team and the British Heart Foundation gave them, that there was a greater need in the community for a group who could offer both exercise and walking at a pace people could cope with. People who had heart and other related problems needed the confidence to get back on their feet; John gave talks to heart patients at the hospital to help them realize that life could be great again.
Over 20 years ago many people came together and formed CREW; many fund-raising events took place, which included BBQ’s and the start of the weekly lottery bonus ball. John knew from firsthand experience the value of having defibrillators in public places and funds were raised to purchase several, so they could be available at our exercise classes, on some of our walks, in public places – North Bridge Leisure Centre and Odsal Stadium.
Now Odsal Stadium was a place very dear to John’s heart; he had been taken by his father from an early age to watch the Bradford Northern Rugby League team play. As he grew up, he helped at the ground, lifting the corners of the pitch for the Speedway and Stockcar races. As years went by John and his wife became involved in the Bradford Northern Supporters Group, when this changed to Bradford Bulls, he became their Chairman and was instrumental in organizing many fund-raising events and arranging sponsorships for the club. For over 14 years he was the Bradford Bulls Timekeeper and only stopped doing this when his health deteriorated, and they moved to play in Dewsbury.
John’s many talents had grown over his working life, he had worked in many trades as a representative, sales manager, key accounts manager, so he could call on many different organizations to assist in his various fund raisings, which now included fund raising for CREW.
John and Ann attended many BHF events on behalf of CREW, they were part of the BHF campaign who attended the Houses of Parliament to get heart and related problems on to the government’s agenda.
John worked very hard for CREW from the very beginning, promoting the benefits of exercise for cardiac and other related health problems, along with being our finance officer.
He had a heart bypass operation in 2015, which was very successful and gave him a new lease of life, unfortunately over the last few years other health issues occurred and John sadly passed away in hospital on the 19th April 2020, at the age of 76. He leaves behind his wife Ann, their family and the many friends who have had the privilege of knowing John throughout his life.