Charity aims to stop children becoming heart patients of tomorrow

The charity Wessex Heartbeat is investing £200,000 in a programme to help the region’s children lead a healthier life.


Announcing the charity’s decision to provide funding for the innovative LifeLab programme, CEO John Munro, said: “Wessex Heartbeat has raised over £16million for the Wessex Cardiac Centre at Southampton Hospital to date and will continue to support it tirelessly. But we also appreciate the vital need to educate young people and thus protect future generations from heart disease.


“LifeLab is a unique and very exciting project which can help stop our children and their children becoming the cardiovascular patients of tomorrow and we are very proud to support it.”


LifeLab is a state-of-the-art teaching laboratory which gives 11-18 year olds the opportunity to learn first-hand the science behind health messages.


During a LifeLab visit students experience being ‘real’ scientists in a genuine hospital research environment; they use ultrasound to visualise blood flowing through their arteries, measure their body composition, test their grip strength and flexibility and measure their lung capacity.


The students also receive training in life-saving techniques of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).


They extract their own DNA and discover, for themselves, how their diets and lifestyles affect the ways their genes work and provide the foundations for a healthier life.


Run by staff from the Faculty of Medicine and Education School from the University of Southampton, LifeLab is based in the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospital Southampton.


Schools undertaking the programme also receive professional development for their teachers, a fully-resourced scheme of work and a series of associated lessons at school.


John Munro added: “The results LifeLab achieves are undeniable, with students showing a significant increase in their awareness of the links between early development and life-long health. This not only ensures they protect their own health, but also encourages them to think about the health traits they will pass on to their future children.”


Kath Woods-Townsend, LifeLab Manager, said: “Since the LifeLab facility opened in 2013, more than 5500 students have had the opportunity to engage with our ongoing scientific research and health messages. By enabling them to understand the science underlying how lifestyle choices at an early age can drastically affect their health, and that of their future children, we empower them to make healthier lifestyle choices. We are incredibly excited that Wessex Heartbeat are investing in this new partnership and look forward to helping more young people take ownership of their own health and the health of their future children.”


Wessex Heartbeat encourages people to fundraise on its behalf and also organises a programme of fundraising events throughout the year ranging from golf days to charity cycle rides and concerts. 


To fundraise for Wessex Heartbeat, to attend one of its events or to find out more about the charity visit:




Media information, please contact Debbie Granville, Deep South Media, tel: 01202 534487 or email: .


Wessex Heartbeat was set up in 1992 and has funded projects including the Young Adult Cardiac Centre and a £1 million refurbishment of the children’s ward at Southampton Hospital.

LifeLab has been running in Southampton since 2008. The programme has a significant local presence and has received strong support from local schools, OFSTED, Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council.