Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke
Who we are


This is Philip, a member of a NICHS Young Stroke Group. Philip was only 19 when he had a stroke but has now been able to return to work. 

Today in Northern Ireland, over 335,000 people are living with a chest, heart and stroke condition, people like Philip. Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke is your local charity, leading the fight against chest, heart and stroke illnesses. Our aim is to support those living with these life changing conditions and prevent others from becoming ill.

We offer practical and emotional support to individuals and families at what can be a difficult time in their lives. Our support services aim to enhance quality of life and increase independence and confidence. We provide an opportunity for people to meet together and share experiences while benefitting from a structured programme of activities including rehabilitation, exercise and information. We run health promotion programmes in schools, homeless hostels, in workplaces and within the community. We fund research relating to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. We campaign for people and families who are affected by these conditions.

We are a local charity and have been working for the people of Northern Ireland for over 70 years. Over 80% of our work is funded by public donations from local people and all the money we raise is spent in Northern Ireland.

Read our booklet on how we Make A Difference.

Our Work

Our Mission is to prevent chest, heart and stroke illnesses in Northern Ireland and care for those already affected by them.

Our Vision is a Northern Ireland Free from chest, heart and stroke illnesses.

The following values will underpin every aspect of our culture and activities:

Caring – We put the needs and rights of all the people of Northern Ireland at the heart of everything we do and show respect and concern for others.

Excellence – We ensure that our work is consistently carried out to the highest standard and continuously improved.

Integrity – We will operate to the highest standards of professionalism, honesty, transparency and accountability.

Inclusion – We will treat others fairly, promote equality and work to narrow health inequalities.

To achieve this, our work is focused in these areas:

Care Services

Our Support Groups and programmes provide a listening ear, emotional support and practical advice or signposting to people and their families and carers affected by chest, heart and stroke conditions. The groups enable people to meet with others in a similar situation, while benefiting from various activities based around continuing rehabilitation, prevention of a reoccurrence and reducing isolation.



We offer a comprehensive healthy schools programme that aims to influence young people’s lifestyle behaviours at an early age, with the hope of a knock on effect on their family and wider community.

We help homeless people, who are particularly vulnerable to these illnesses through our Health and Homeless projects, which focus on diet choices and healthier lifestyles.


Health Promotion

Our health promotion services include health information, talks and nurse health checks in the workplace and in the community which enable people to make informed choices and adopt healthier lifestyles in order to reduce their risk of developing chest, heart and stroke illnesses.


We are committed to funding research into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of chest, heart and stroke illnesses in Northern Ireland’s hospitals and universities which will benefit the people of Northern Ireland.


We campaign at Assembly level on behalf of people and families impacted by chest, heart and stroke illnesses.

Click here to find out how many people we worked with in 2014-15.

If you would like to make a donation to help us in this work, please click on the button below.


Our Governance Board


Professor Mahendra Varma
 OBE was a Consultant Cardiologist before his retirement, at the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen since 1981.

Since 1984 he has been Chairman of Fermanagh support branch of NICHS and has been a member of Council of NICHS since 1985.

He has been Chairman of the Medical Staff Committee at the Erne Hospital for many years.  He is a former President of the Irish Cardiac Society.

Prof Varma was recently honoured with an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.



Mr James (Jim) Collins is former Chief Executive of the Ford Motor Co in Finaghy.  He has held several public appointments.

He has served on a number of public bodies ranging from commerce to education.

He was a member of the Fair Employee Tribunals for 10 years.

He is currently Chairman of the ORTUS group of companies.

He also acts as a business mentor to small companies.

Jim is a member of the NICHS Finance Committee and is Vice Chair of NICHS.




Ian Lindsay FCA is the Honorary Treasurer.  He was formerly senior partner at Moore Stephens Chartered Accountants.  He is Honorary Treasurer of a number of other charities.

Ian Chairs the Finance Committee of NICHS and is an ex–officio member of the Audit and Risk Committee.



Christine Donnelly is a part–time lecturer at the Belfast Metropolitan College and was previously the Head of Ireland for TUI Travel, Falcon/JET and Thomson Holidays with responsibility for a business with a turnover in excess of €150m.

She is a founding member of N.I.F.T.I. an initiative formed by travel industry professionals to present an experienced voice to government to ensure that the Northern Irish tourism market reaches its international potential.

Christine is a member if the Institute of Directors and the Bank of England Business Consultative Team in Northern Ireland.



Jim Scholes practiced as a barrister in private practice before joining the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. In 2007 he was appointed Deputy Director and subsequently served as Acting Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland for two years prior to his retirement in 2012.

He currently sits as a Parole Commissioner and as a Civil Service Commissioner. In 1980 he was appointed Chair of the Friends of the Joss Cardwell Centre, a then newly formed voluntary group, and played significant role in resisting attempts to close the Centre, thereby allowing its ultimate incorporation into the Musgrave Park Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit which opened in 2006.



Martin Mulholland is a lecturer in Strategic Management in the Management School at Queen’s University Belfast.

He was previously a Lecturer in Continuing Education at QUB and prior to that a Lecturer in Lifelong Learning.

Martin leads the part–time Business Degree course and the Masters Degree course in Human Resource Management.



Tony Earley is a Senior Officer in the HR department at Queen’s University Belfast. He has over thirty years  experience as a Personnel practitioner and is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development. Tony is also a Board Member of Employers for Disability Northern Ireland.

Dr Brian Gallen has been a Consultant Stroke Physician and Geriatrician in the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen since 2015.

He has a particular interest in clinical education, a subject in which he has a  Postgraduate Certificate.

He has a wide range of clinical experience throughout Northern Ireland having worked for all 5 of Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Trusts. He has developed a keen interest in development of stroke services for different populations and equitability of  access to stroke services such as TIA, stroke thrombolysis, rehabilitation and mechanical thrombectomy.


Our Senior Management Team



Declan Cunnane, Chief Executive of NICHS, is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience of working in the private and voluntary sectors, including 15 years in professional practice as an advisor to the voluntary sector. He is Institute of Directors NI/First Trust Bank Third Sector Director of the Year 2017 and was Highly Commended in the ‘Best Newcomer’ category at Chief Officers Third Sector (CO3) Leadership Awards 2017. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the UK Health Forum and a member of the European Heart Network (EHN). Through his membership of the EHN he has access to the World Heart Federation and the international heart network. He is Honorary Treasurer and Board Member of a number of other charities.


Gareth McGleenon has recently joined NICHS as the Deputy Chief Executive. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant with extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining NICHS, Gareth held senior management positions in PricewaterhouseCoopers, Invest NI, in Industry and most recently with First Trust Bank. Gareth has also been on the Board of a number of Not for Profit Organisations.


Fidelma Carter, Director of Public Health for NICHS, joined the organisation in October 2012. After starting out her career in health promotion, following her studies at Galway National University Ireland, Fidelma then worked for 14 years in the NHS in London. Fidelma has held various senior management, public health and commissioning roles requiring her to work across and with statutory, community, primary care and 3rd sector planners and providers to promote health, equity and reduce inequalities. She has a strong track record in business planning, strategic thinking and formulation and in developing high quality and equitable services that meets the needs of local populations. Fidelma left the NHS in 2012 as Director of Inclusion, Communications and Engagement, to live in Northern Ireland with her partner and two young children. She worked as a volunteer for NI Confederation for Health and Social Care (NICON) and previously served as a chair of governors for over 5 years for an inner city London school and served as co–opted member for other boards.


Fiona Greene is Director of Care and Secondary Prevention for NICHS and as such is the senior lead for the development and delivery of services to people affected by chest, heart and stroke illnesses. In 1994 Fiona obtained her degree in Law from Queen’s University Belfast and since then she has worked in the charity sector in Northern Ireland. Previous roles have included Advice Services Manager with Gingerbread NI and Senior Manager with Victim Support NI, responsible for Policy and new service development.  She also held the voluntary role of Chairperson with the Law Centre NI. Fiona has been with NICHS since 2008, joining as the Area Manager for the Southern and South Eastern Trust regions.  She is passionate about developing services, and ensuring NICHS reach out to as many people and families as they can.


Jackie Trainor is the Director of Engagement and Income Generation. She has over 20 years experience in the Third Sector and has worked in a variety of charitable organisations largely in a management capacity. Previous roles have included Corporate Manager with Concern Worldwide, Business Development Manager with Carecall, and Head of Income Generation with War on Want NI. More recently she moved into the development education sector which included two years as Major Gifts Manager at Queens University, Belfast. She has provided in kind consultancy and support to several charities over the years and is passionate about raising funds and building awareness for worthy causes. She has been a charity Board member since 2013.