Alec Bloom

Alec Bloom

Alec Bloom

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ALEC Bloom, who has died aged 87, was the driving force behind fundraising efforts which eventually raised more than £3m to buy equipment to treat heart patients across Yorkshire.

Heart disease was of particular concern to him, his own history being part of the reason, but in the background was a haunting family tragedy because an older sister, Cissie, had died of congenital heart disease in her 20s.

The youngest of five children born in Leeds, Mr Bloom was a child at the time of her death.

He went to Cowper Street School, his bar mitzvah memorably coinciding with the day Britain declared war on Germany.

Five years later, he was called up for military service and in 1948 he met his future wife Miriam Simon at a Sunday evening Jubilee Hall Dance, marrying her in 1950.

The clothing business he and an elder brother Sam set up after the war, Maple Clothing International, had been highly successful but was undone by cheap imports and a vanishing market for its traditional lines. Its collapse in 1976 coincided with his first heart attack and, after recovering from it, he directed his energy towards raising money for charity.

To this he brought a disarming charm combined with fearlessness and tenacity, powerful qualities which came into full play when he formed a fundraising support group in 1989 called Friends of Killingbeck Hospital after he had had a heart bypass operation at that Leeds hospital.

The support group flourished until he was invited by cardiologists to raise money for adult heart surgery.

The first event he organised was a civic dinner, raising £40,000, but his ideas were developing, and the following year he launched the Hospital Heartbeat Appeal, persuading the then Duke of Devonshire to be its president.

His own health remained problematical and he underwent a triple bypass operation at Killingbeck Hospital.

Upon his recovery he was asked by Bradford Royal Infirmary to do what he could to raise money for a new angiography suite.

He and those whom he had co-opted onto the Heartbeat Appeal agreed to raise £250,000, and embarked on a series of high profile fundraising events.

In 2003 Mr Bloom was awarded an MBE for services to the charity, and five years later the League of Mercy conferred on him its prestigious Badge of the Order of Mercy.

Two years later he underwent another bypass operation and upon making a remarkable recovery organised a race day at Doncaster.

A new Heartbeat cardiac unit was opened at Leeds General Infirmary, and an Eddie Gray Golf Club Classic event followed 12 months later to raise yet more money.

Heartbeat’s work wound down in 2012 but an annual award scheme, set up by Mr Bloom together with cardiologist Dr Gordon Williams to recognise exceptional work by cardiac physiologists and clinicians, continues.

Mr Bloom is survived by his wife Miriam and their two sons.

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