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Hundreds benefit from volunteer’s kindness

Meet a big-hearted Christchurch woman whose hard work at a sewing machine has benefited countless heart surgery patients.

Even at 81 years old, Alison Dowson is still giving up hours of her time for people in need – including those affected by heart disease. 

Alison is a long-time member of Christchurch’s Inner Wheel club, which we approached last year to make cardiac cushions for patients recovering from heart surgery. The cushions are used to protect the patient’s wound if they need to cough, or act as a buffer between the seatbelt and chest when driving. 

She and her fellow members were only too happy to help and have gone on to sew an incredible 500 cardiac cushions for the Heart Foundation. 

Although Inner Wheel is a massive international volunteer organisation, the Christchurch club has 18 members and only four sewing machines between them.

“I had to get my old Singer out of the back of the cupboard, I didn’t think it would still work but it does!” Alison says. 

Each of the cardiac cushions are given to patients who have been through heart surgery at Christchurch Hospital. The hospital gives out about two cushions every day, so the club has been kept busy.

Heart disease is something Alison has personal experience with – her grandson was born with a heart condition and had heart surgery as a newborn, and then again about five years ago. 

“When he was born the doctors said he would never be able to play sport and he might not live very long, but now he is a keen basketball player.”  

He is now 18 and, when he saw the cushions, said he wished he’d been given one after his operation.

“After my grandson’s experience I feel a connection with the Heart Foundation and it is great to do something useful,” Alison says.

On behalf of us all at the Heart Foundation, thank you to Alison and her fellow Inner Wheel club members for their generous support. We could not continue our vital work without them and all our other caring volunteers around New Zealand.