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. 

The work we do is vital for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Today in Northern Ireland 10 people will suffer a heart attack. 12 people will have a stroke, even people as young as Philip. And 1 in every 7 deaths will result from respiratory disease. In addition to this over 200,000 people are living with long term chest, heart, or stroke conditions. In fact, 40% of adults deaths in Northern Ireland are from chest, heart or stroke conditions.

Read our booklet on how we Make A Difference.

Our Work

Watch this video to find out more about us.

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
has been Consultant Cardiologist 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.




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

He is a currently a member of the Northern Ireland Council for curriculum examinations and assessment and is also a Board member for the NI Health and Safety Executive

He is a former Board member of the Labour Relations Agency NI.  He is currently Chairman of ORTUS, a social enterprise based in West Belfast.

Jim is a member of the NICHS Finance Committee and has recently been elected 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.



Dr Joe Kidney is Consultant Respiratory Physician at the Mater Hospital in Belfast.  He is particularly interested in the effects of COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (emphysema, bronchitis etc) in deprived city areas.

Joe is also a member of the Finance Committee of NICHS and the Operations Oversight Committee.



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 as managing partner of an accountancy practice that specialised in advising the charity sector.

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.


Kerry Anderson joined NICHS as Director of Income Generation in 2014 and is responsible for strategic development of fundraising.

Kerry attended Queens University Belfast gaining a degree in Psychology & English followed by completion of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Postgraduate Diploma.

Having spent 14 years in the charity and voluntary sector before joining NICHS, Kerry has extensive experience in fundraising, marketing and strategic operational development.  Most recently her 9 years at Action Cancer involved management of integrated marketing campaigns as well as developing sustainable income streams across various areas including corporate, events, individual giving and trust and legacy funding.

As a member of the Institute of Fundraising, Kerry has a passion for fundraising that engages supporters in long lasting relationships that make a genuine difference.