Children’s Heart Surgery Fund CEO Sharon Milner to leave post after 16 years

The CEO of Leeds-based Children's Heart Surgery Fund is set to leave her post after 16 successful years - including guiding the charity through the difficulties of the Covid pandemic.

Sharon Milner has led Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) since 2007, fronting the campaign to save the Heart Unit from closure in 2012, and championing the charity’s capital appeal Keeping The Beat campaign to fund equipment for the revolutionary hybrid theatre, which sees hundreds of children going through life saving operations on a daily basis.

In recent years, she has seen a focus on CHSF’s family support within the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit (LCHU) going from strength to strength.

Mrs Milner said it was a "huge wrench" to leave the cause she cares about so deeply, but was delighted to hand over the charity to her successor who is due to be announced.

Sharon Milner has led Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) since 2007

"I’m a firm believer that changes in leadership are important, and CHSF are coming out of what’s been a difficult few years for most people with a new ambitious strategy", she added.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with a superb range of talented people across the NHS, and within the charity itself. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together from raising the profile of the charity, to championing a Heart Unit that has become a world-class centre of excellence.”

“The public support we received during Save Our Surgery was exceptional and I will never forget it.

"We have never taken the support of the region for granted, but you have been there for us every single time and I can’t thank each one of our supporters enough.

Sharon Milner has led Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) since 2007 Pictured with Dickie Bird

“At the end of the day, we could not have achieved anything without the people of this region getting behind us. We saw businesses, schools, trusts and individuals donating and hosting fundraising events to save their much-loved heart unit, the passion was on a scale I have never seen”

CHSF’s Keeping The Beat appeal raised £500,000 within two years towards the equipment for a new hybrid theatre which revolutionised congenital cardiac services in Leeds.

In 2020, the LCHU was rated as the having the highest surgery survival rate in the UK.

Mrs Milner said: “The legacy of those who contributed to the Keeping The Beat target means poorly babies and children with heart disease will benefit from exceptional healthcare for generations to come.”

Sharon Milner has led Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) since 2007

“The hybrid theatre has not only given a lifeline to a new generation of poorly babies and children but helped highlight the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit as a world-class centre of excellence.”

In 2021, CHSF awarded an exceptional amount of money to the LCHU thanks to supporters and is focusing on family support as part of its future strategy.Mrs Milner said: “There is so much more to do, and CHSF faces a huge challenge ahead to support the heart unit and its patients every step of the way.

"As long as babies are born with heart defects in our region, CHSF will continue to support hearts for life. But they can only do it with your help - please continue to support this wonderful charity.”

To donate to CHSF, visit http://www.chsf.org.uk.