British Heart Foundation

Last updated

British Heart Foundation
BHF Logo Lockup Vertical BHF Red RGB@4x.png
Legal status Registered charity
PurposeHeart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors
Region served
United Kingdom
Doug Gurr
Chief Executive
Dr Charmaine Griffiths [1]

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is a charity organisation in the United Kingdom. It funds research related to heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors.



The British Heart Foundation was founded in 1961 by a group of medical professionals who were concerned about the increasing death rate from cardiovascular disease. They wanted to fund extra research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of heart and circulatory diseases. [2]

It is a major funder and authority in cardiovascular research, education, and care, and relies predominantly on voluntary donations to meet its aims. In order to increase income and maximise the impact of its work, it also works with other organizations to combat premature death and disability from cardiovascular disease.


British Heart Foundation Cymru demonstrating CPR skills Emergency life support skills demonstration by British Heart Foundation Cymru, 19 June 2012 Sefydliad Prydeinig y Galon Cymrun arddangos sgiliau triniaeth cynnal bywyd brys 19 Mehefin 2012.jpg
British Heart Foundation Cymru demonstrating CPR skills
A British Heart Foundation furniture and electricals shop, Gloucester British Heart Foundation, Gloucester.JPG
A British Heart Foundation furniture and electricals shop, Gloucester
British Heart Foundation shop, King Street, Hammersmith British Heart Foundation shop, King Street, Hammersmith 03.jpg
British Heart Foundation shop, King Street, Hammersmith

The British Heart Foundation’s main focus is to fund cardiovascular research, aiming to spend around £100 million a year funding scientists around the UK. They are currently funding over 1000 research projects. [3]

Since 2008 the British Heart Foundation has been investing in Centres of Research Excellence. The six current centres bring together scientists from a number of disciplines to work on research projects to beat heart and circulatory disease. [4] The current Centres of Research are:

In 2013 the BHF committed to funding three multi-institution Centres of Regenerative Medicine, investing £7.5 million over four years to fund scientists looking for new treatments for heart failure. [5]

Other activities include:

In 2015 The British Heart Foundation had an income of just over £133m. In 2015 the BHF spent £102.5 million on funding cardiovascular research and £30.8 million on prevention, survival and support activities. [8]


The British Heart Foundation sponsored two television series produced by Twofour, Kitchen Detective and Kid's Fit Squad. Both series encouraged healthy eating and exercise with practical advice for families, and aired on the Discovery Health channel. The BHF, along with Cancer Research UK, is a major backer of the anti-tobacco campaign group Action on Smoking and Health. [9]

Facts and figures


The BHF is mainly funded by legacies and wills, accounting for 40% of their income, the rest is made up of other voluntary income (31%), profit from the retail division (23%) and investment income (5%).

The charity organises a sponsored skipping challenge through schools, Jump Rope for Heart, in which the participating schools are entitled to retain 20% of the money raised. [13]

Other annual campaigns include National Heart Month (held throughout February), Wear Red Day and The Big Donation as well as many other campaigns to recruit volunteers, raise awareness of BHF, sell stock and increase donations.

In December 2010 Victoria Wood performed a show called "The Angina Monologues" for The British Heart Foundation with the strapline "Beating Heart Disease one laugh at a time". [14]

Retail Division

Valentine's Day shop window display in Monmouth, Wales. Happy Valentine's Day - - 1706688.jpg
Valentine's Day shop window display in Monmouth, Wales.

The British Heart Foundation Shops Division was founded in 1986, and was renamed Retail Division in 2010. The BHF run a large chain of charity shops throughout England, Wales and Scotland, as of December 2016 they run 737 shops which include over 160 furniture and electrical shops (or F+E shops), and they are looking to acquire more sites in the coming years. They also have an online shop and an eBay Store. The BHF Retail division makes roughly £30 million every year. [15]

BHF shops are predominantly staffed by roughly 22,500 volunteers and each shop also has a paid staff made up of a shop manager, assistant manager and may also have a shop assistant.

The British Heart Foundation were the first charity shops to Gift Aid their donations to get extra money by claiming the tax back from the donor.[ citation needed ]

The Retail Director is Mike Taylor and the headquarters of the retail division is based in Claygate, England. The BHF has 730 shops across the UK.


Animal research

The charity is one of four organisations subject to a national boycott campaign regarding their funding of animal research. "Animal Aid plans to take out a series of newspaper adverts urging the public to stop giving money to Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, the Alzheimer's Society and Parkinson's UK unless they end their support for animal testing." [16] [17] In November 2011 a protest took place calling for the BHF and the University of Leeds to stop carrying out co-funded "lethal experiments" on dogs. The pressure group Animal Aid stated that 100 dogs had died since 1988 during the experiments. [18] [19]

The BHF has responded to these criticisms by saying the charity only funds animal research after grant applications have gone through an independent peer review process and follows the three Rs principles when considering such grants. [20]

Wealth screening

On 6 December 2016, the BHF was fined £18,000 by the UK Information Commissioner's Office which ruled that the charity had breached data protection legislation by employing external bodies to analyse the financial status of supporters in order to appeal to them for further donations, a practice known as 'wealth screening', and by trading the personal details of its donors with other charitable organisations. [21] The BBC reported that, "Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said donors had not been informed of the charity's practices, and were therefore unable to consent or object to them. She also suggested other charities could also be engaged in similar activities. 'The millions of people who give their time and money to benefit good causes will be saddened to learn that their generosity wasn't enough,' Ms Denham added." [21] The same BBC report noted that the charity's chief executive had stated that "the ICO's conclusions were 'wrong, disproportionate and inconsistent […] We find the decision surprising, as earlier this year in June the ICO praised our data handling. Our trustees will therefore consider whether it's in the interests of our supporters and beneficiaries to challenge this decision." [21]

See also

Related Research Articles

Circulatory system Organ system for circulating blood in animals

The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system or the vascular system, is an organ system that permits blood to circulate and transport nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells to and from the cells in the body to provide nourishment and help in fighting diseases, stabilize temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis.

Charity shop Retail establishment run by a charitable organization to raise money

A charity shop (UK), thrift shop or thrift store (USA) or opportunity shop (others) is a retail establishment run by a charitable organization to raise money. Charity shops are a type of social enterprise. They sell mainly used goods such as clothing, books, music albums, shoes, DVDs, toys, and furniture donated by members of the public, and are often staffed by volunteers. Because the items for sale were obtained for free, and business costs are low, the items can be sold at competitive prices. After costs are paid, all remaining income from the sales is used in accord with the organization's stated charitable purpose. Costs include purchase and/or depreciation of fixtures, operating costs and the building lease or mortgage.

Heart Protection Study

The Heart Protection Study was a randomized controlled trial run by the Clinical Trial Service Unit, and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in the United Kingdom. It studied the use of the cholesterol lowering drug, simvastatin 40 mg and vitamin supplementation in people who were at risk of cardiovascular disease. It was led by Jane Armitage, an epidemiologist at the Clinical Trial Service Unit.

Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Lucia Roddick, was a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing natural beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism. The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals in some of its products and one of the first to promote fair trade with developing countries.

Cancer Research UK Cancer research and awareness charity

Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. As the world's largest independent cancer research charity it conducts research by the charity's own staff and by its grant-funded researchers. It also provides information about cancer and runs campaigns aimed at raising awareness and influencing public policy.

Medical Research Council (United Kingdom) State institution responsible for co-ordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is responsible for co-coordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom. It is part of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI), which came into operation 1 April 2018, and brings together the UK's seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. UK Research and Innovation is answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Wellcome Trust British healthcare research charity established in 1936

The Wellcome Trust is a charitable foundation focused on health research based in London, in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1936 with legacies from the pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome to fund research to improve human and animal health. The aim of the Trust is to "support science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone." It had a financial endowment of £29.1 billion in 2020, making it the fourth wealthiest charitable foundation in the world. In 2012, the Wellcome Trust was described by the Financial Times as the United Kingdom's largest provider of non-governmental funding for scientific research, and one of the largest providers in the world. According to their annual report, the Wellcome Trust spent GBP £1.1Bn on charitable activities across their 2019/2020 financial year.

Magdi Yacoub

Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub, is an Egyptian-British retired professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Imperial College London, best known for his early work in repairing heart valves with surgeon Donald Ross, adapting the Ross procedure, where the diseased aortic valve is replaced with the person's own pulmonary valve, devising the arterial switch operation (ASO) in transposition of the great arteries, and establishing the heart transplantation centre at Harefield Hospital in 1980 with a heart transplant for Derrick Morris, who at the time of his death was Europe's longest-surviving heart transplant recipient. Yacoub subsequently performed the UK's first combined heart and lung transplant in 1983.

Alzheimers Society United Kingdom care and research charity

Alzheimer's Society is a United Kingdom care and research charity for people with dementia and their carers. It operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while its sister charities Alzheimer Scotland and Alzheimer's Society of Ireland cover Scotland and the Republic of Ireland respectively.

Parkinson's UK is a Parkinson's research and support charity in the United Kingdom. In April 2010, the Parkinson's Disease Society changed its name to become Parkinson's UK. Its aims are to improve the quality of life for people affected by Parkinson's and find a cure for the condition.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) is an NHS foundation trust based in London, United Kingdom. It comprises University College Hospital, University College Hospital at Westmoreland Street, the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital.

Dame Anna Felicja Dominiczak DBE FRCP FRSE FAHA FMedSci is a Polish-Scottish medical researcher, Regius Professor of Medicine - the first woman to hold this position, and Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She is also a non-executive member of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. From 2013 to 2015, Dominiczak was President of the European Society of Hypertension.

Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences Research centre at University of Glasgow

The Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences main hub is the purpose- built BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre facility at the University of Glasgow. The Director of Institute is Prof Rhian Touyz, MBBCh, MSc(Med), PhD. She is the British Heart Foundation(BHF) Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine and Director of the BHF Centre of Research Excellence. The Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences (ICAMS) is a research-intensive institute of basic and clinical scientists and clinicians.

John Deanfield is a British professor of cardiology and past Olympic fencer.

BAPS Charities

BAPS Charities is an international, non-religious, charitable organization that originated from the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) with a focus on serving society. Their history of service activities can be traced back to Swaminarayan (1781-1830), who opened alms houses, built shelters, worked against addiction, and abolished the practice of sati and female infanticide with the goals of removing suffering and effecting positive social change. This focus on service to society is stated in the organization's vision, that "every individual deserves the right to a peaceful, dignified, and healthy way of life. And by improving the quality of life of the individual, we are bettering families, communities, our world, and our future." BAPS Charities carries out this vision through a range of programs addressing health, education, the environment, and natural disaster recovery. The organization's worldwide activities are funded through donations and are led by a community of over 55,000 volunteers who are mostly members of BAPS. The volunteers work with local communities and other charities and the organization's activities are mainly based out of their mandirs.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust runs Great Ormond Street Hospital. It is closely associated with University College London (UCL) and in partnership with the UCL Institute of Child Health, which it is located adjacent to, is the largest centre for research and postgraduate teaching in children’s health in Europe. It is part of both the Great Ormond Street Hospital/UCL Institute of Child Health Biomedical Research Centre and the UCL Partners academic health science centre.

Animal Justice Project international pressure group

The Animal Justice Project is an international pressure group that campaigns against vivisection and other animal industries based on what the group identifies as speciesism. The organisation was launched on 1 December 2014 by a group of campaigners and activists from the UK and Europe, with backgrounds in grassroots activism and professional animal rights. The organisation is currently active in both the UK and United States and works primarily for the abolition of the use of animals in laboratories and farms, for breeding, research and education.

Barbara Casadei is British Heart Foundation (BHF) Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford, based in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine.

Rhian Merry Touyz Koppel is a South African medical researcher. She is the Assistant Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences (ICAMS), University of Glasgow, and the Vice-President of the International Society of Hypertension.

Shoumo Bhattacharya is an Indian medical doctor and academic, and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the BHF Centre of Research Excellence, University of Oxford.


  1. "BHF appoints Dr Charmaine Griffiths as new Chief Executive".
  2. "Who we are". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  3. "Where we fund". British Heart Foundation.
  4. "Centres of Research Excellence". British Heart Foundation. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  5. "Centres of Regenerative Medicine". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  6. "CPR kits for schools". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  7. "DH and BHF make life saving defibrillator commitment". British Heart Foundation. 1 October 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  8. "Annual reports and accounts 2016". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  9. "Who we are". 28 October 2003. Archived from the original on 8 January 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  10. "Heart health: Nation of lifesavers: Heartstart". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  11. BHF Annual Report and Accounts 2013; Facts and figures
  12. "Who we are". Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  13. "Jump Rope For Heart" . Retrieved 25 March 2008.
  14. "The Angina Monologues with Victoria Wood". 16 February 2007. Archived from the original on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  15. "Our Annual Review and Accounts 2016". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  16. Oliver Wright (21 June 2011). "Animal rights group declares war on leading health charities". The Independent. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  17. "Charities are attacked over experiments experiments". The Scotsman. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  18. "Leeds University animal rights protest staged". BBC News. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  19. Express, Ted Jeory, Sunday (2 September 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Outrage as major UK charity uses donations to fund vivisection tests on dogs".
  20. "British Heart Foundation article by BHF Medical Director Professor Peter Weissberg".
  21. 1 2 3 "Charities fined over 'wealth screening' data breaches". BBC News Online . BBC. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.