Ben backs health campaign with local MLA

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A Lower Sixth student from Wallace High School, Ben Sharkey, has been carrying out his work experience with Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale.

During his work experience, Ben accompanied Mrs Hale to a number of events at Stormont, including one organised by the British Heart Foundation.

Leading experts in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory diseases and dementia discussed the necessity for the next Stormont government to develop a plan to meet WHO targets, which will result is a drop in premature deaths.

Mrs Hale said after the event: “I am proud to support the British Heart Foundation NI’s ‘Back the Beat’ campaign and I am behind the charity’s fight to ensure the Stormont Executive takes urgent action to meet the challenge set by the World Health Organisation.

“Too many lives are lost in Lagan Valley constituency from diseases such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.

“By working together, the next Stormont Assembly can work to meet this target and prevent premature deaths.

“By setting targets to reduce tobacco and alcohol use, salt intake, sugar intake, obesity, and raised blood pressure, modernising our health system and redesigning services, we can help save lives.”

The presentation was filled with eye-opening statistics informing the audience that approximately 3,700 people die from heart disease each year in Northern Ireland alone, with three quarters (or around 2,467) of these being preventable.

However, heart disease is just one of the many diseases that the ‘Back the Beat’ campaign are trying to suppress.

The targeted illnesses are called Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and are the cause of 70% of all deaths worldwide.

The campaign aims to see a 25% reduction in premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by 2025.

Local people can ‘Back the Beat’ by lending their weight to the campaign by supporting their election calls through their website ( or use ‘#backthebeat’ on social media.