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Moneyrea mum takes on Red Dress Fun Run six months after heart attack

10 Feb 2022
5 U0 A0175 digital

“I’m only 45. I can’t have a heart attack.” This was the thought in the forefront of Kirsty Cherry’s mind when she was admitted to hospital in August 2021.

A busy mum to two teenagers, as well as a self-employed events manager and PR professional and owner of Cherry Moon candles, her illness came as a huge shock.

Now this February, six months on from her heart scare, Kirsty is raising awareness and funds to fight heart disease by taking part in Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s Red Dress Fun Run 2022, supported by MACE.

Kirsty says, “It was a normal Friday when I had my heart attack. I had what I thought was awful heartburn which came and went throughout the day. I didn’t suspect anything serious, so I had a quick lie down, took some paracetamol and Gaviscon.”

“Later that night the pain was back, and I lay for an hour in agony. I even Googled ‘severe heartburn’. Eventually the pain passed, and I fell asleep.”

When Kirsty woke up the following morning, she “felt like I had been hit by a bus. Like I had been kicked by someone wearing Doctor Martens”.

Kirsty called Out of Hours and was advised to go to A&E, where following an ECG and blood tests, she was told she had suffered a heart attack.

Kirsty could not believe what she was hearing. “I thought, I can’t be ill. How am I going to work or earn money? I didn’t even want to be admitted, but I was told I was going straight to the cardiology ward, and that was that.”

The following Tuesday Kirsty was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for further tests and had a stent fitted to unblock a narrowed and blocked artery.

She returned home that night in shock from her ordeal. “It had to absorb it all. I confided in a few friends and my family. I have had some weepy moments, but I am trying to take it in my stride.”

Kirsty now says her heart attack has been a ‘wake up call’ to change her lifestyle and improve her heart health. “I just wasn’t looking out for myself. I was worrying about keeping a roof over my head, bills, the kids getting back to school, and stressing about things not in my control. Now I’m trying to reduce my alcohol intake, improving my diet and generally looking after myself more.”

Although Kirsty is now recovering, she has learned all too well how heart illness can impact your life. “The road to recovery has been difficult at times, with some setbacks, but I am determined to be the best I can be. You can get very down during recovery and that is where it is important to reach out to friends and medical professionals for support.”

Fidelma Carter, Head of Public Health at NICHS says; “A lot of people don’t realise they are actually having a heart attack. As Kirsty’s story shows, the signs and symptoms are more varied than you would think. We are therefore urging people to remember the acronym STOP - if you notice yourself or someone else presenting with any of these symptoms, don’t wait, call an ambulance immediately.”

The STOP acronym stands for:

S – Something’s not right – symptoms can start slowly

T – Tightness or pain in the chest, pain in the arm, neck or jaw

O – Other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or sweating

P – Phone 999 immediately.

“I was in contact with Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke for support following my heart attack, and now I’m delighted to be an ambassador for their Red Dress Fun Run this February. I’ve learned just how important your heart health is, so with my family, I’ll be taking part to raise awareness and much needed funds to help NICHS be there for people like me affected by heart illness in Northern Ireland.”

“I’m speaking out to help other people, especially women, who think heart disease and heart attacks are not relevant to them. It can happen to anyone at any age. I want to encourage other people to take healthy steps and join us at the Red Dress Fun Run. If telling my story helps even one other person, I’ll be happy.”

The Red Dress Fun Run event went Virtual last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, with hundreds of participants taking part in their local area across Northern Ireland and raising a staggering £50,000 to combat heart disease.

Nadia Duncan, Events & Marketing Manager is urging family members of every generation, every age and ability to sign up saying. “Sadly, four people in Northern Ireland die every day from heart disease, and coronary heart disease is the biggest single cause of premature deaths of under 75s. Our vision is a Northern Ireland free from chest, heart and stroke illnesses. We provide funding for local research into prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and care. We also campaign for policies to improve the health of local people.”

“So please come run, walk, dance, skip or wheel 5K with us on Sunday 27th February 2022 at Stormont Estate, or if you can’t make the live event you can support us by doing 5k your way any day, or over days, in February. Dress red, wear your heart on your sleeve to remember a loved one and together we can help rebuild thousands of lives and make a lasting change towards heart health in Northern Ireland. Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun - even the family pooch!”

NI Chest Heart and Stroke’s charity partner MACE are supporting the event. Diane Anthony from MACE said, “We’re backing NICHS’s call for people to dress up in red and wear their heart on their sleeve at this year’s event. Whether you’re taking part in memory of someone you have lost to heart disease, celebrating someone who is living with a heart condition, or to prevent heart disease happening to someone in the future – sign up and join us to support this worthy cause!”

If you’ve been inspired by Kirsty’s story, then why not step up to the challenge? Whether you are running or walking in memory of a loved one or simply to get active, sign yourself, friends, and family up to the Red Dress Fun Run on Sunday, February 27, at 11am. Sign up at You can also follow the fun at #REDDRESSFUNRUN.

The charity is also inviting primary school pupils to have a laugh while they raise some cash for heart illness by hosting their own fun run anytime this February. Each school that takes part will receive a certificate of thanks to show how much they raised and there are some fantastic prizes up for grabs too. Find out more at