Breathe Easy Causeway hosted a celebratory farewell at their July meeting.
The guest of honour at the meeting in Coleraine Rugby Club, which was also attended by representatives from Ballymena Breathe Easy Group, was Dr James Cant, who is leaving his post as Head of the British Lung Foundation for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Dr Cant, who has a background in teaching and as a Civil Servant, is taking up a new charity challenge as Director for Scotland of the British Heart Foundation. A new Head of BLF for Scotland and Northern Ireland is expected to be in post by September next.
Dr Cant, who was making a farewell trip to Breathe Easy Groups throughout Northern Ireland, took the opportunity to praise highly the commitment and enterprise of Breathe Easy Groups in fund-raising and in helping to make the public more aware of what is being done to allow people with serious breathing problems to have the best possible quality of life.
Pointing out that in the past 30 years the British Lung Foundation has invested £24m in lung disease research, Dr Cant said: “The aim is to make sure that people with lung disease are diagnosed early and treated better, and that fewer people develop lung disease in the first place.
“Breathe Easy Groups, particularly those in Northern Ireland, have played an important role, not only in the hard grind of fund-raising , but also in providing a friendly social arena in which members can enjoy themselves and, at the same time, learn how best to battle their lung disorders.”
Welcoming Dr Cant, Mr Sam Kelly, Treasurer of Breathe Easy Causeway, said: “James showed tremendous qualities of leadership and passion for the work of BLF.
“The Breathe Easy Groups ‘loss can only be a tremendous gain for the British Heart Foundation.”
Mrs Nessie Blair, MBE, Service Development Manager for BLF in Northern Ireland, had warm words of praise for Dr Cant: “The charity is in the final stages of recruiting a new Head of BLF for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and we look forward to continue to develop our work across Northern Ireland.
“The legacy of excellent leadership and example of hard work which James has left behind will form a good foundation for the new Head of BLF for Scotland and Northern Ireland to build upon.
She added: “James had a real passion to see respiratory services improved in Northern Ireland.
“As a team, working within the BLF organisation, we have a challenge ahead of us to see services improved, especially within our five priority disease areas – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, lung cancer, mesothelioma, paedritic lung disease, and interstitial lung disease.”
Mrs Blair pointed out that Northern Ireland has a good spread of Breathe Easy Groups taking in Coleraine, Derry-Londonderry, Ballymena and Irvinstown.
Respiratory Consultant Physicians – Dr Eoin Murtagh, Dr Martin Kelly and Dr Terence McManus – all hold the honorary office of President of the Breathe Easy Groups in Northern Ireland, she revealed.
Special presentations were made to Dr Cant by the Causeway and Ballymena Groups. The gifts were handed over by Marie Hegarty, Vice Chairperson Causeway, and Sharon Walker, Secretary of the Ballymena Group, respectively.