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About us

About us

There are estimated to be over 250,000 adults who were born with a heart condition, in the UK. Over half will experience medical and social problems at some time in their adult lives. Some can be ‘cured’ in the first few years of life but others require lifelong follow up. Advances in heart surgery made in the last 50 years, combined with patients own fighting spirit, have ensured that more congenital heart patients are surviving longer than ever before.

We make it our Mission: 

To ensure that congenital heart patients enjoy access to every opportunity, are free from discrimination and are fully supported throughout their life. 

Our Vision is: 

A world where everyone born with a heart condition receives excellent medical care; where congenital heart patients lead happy, healthy lives and reach their full potential.

How The Somerville Foundation started

The Somerville Foundation started life as the Grown Up Congenital Heart Patients Association, and was the brainchild of Professor Jane Somerville of the Royal Brompton Hospital, London. Working with Judy Shedden MBE, Jane co-founded the organisation. In August 1993, initial funding to startup the Association was obtained from the British Heart Foundation and in October 1994 GUCH PA registered as a charity. 

The Association’s vision was to create a national support network for adolescent and adult congenital heart patients. This network would allow similar experiences to be shared and practical advice to be offered on issues like insurance, employment and  welfare benefits. Above all, it would encourage congenital heart patients to help and support each other. 

Initial work began by informing consultants and nursing staff at the specialist heart centres round the country about the Association. Members were gathered via hospital staff and personal contacts. 1993 saw the production of the first newsletters, two a year initially. This has now increased to four issues a year. There was a great deal of enthusiasm for the Association, particularly amongst patients at the Royal Brompton Hospital, and many volunteered their services to assist in the running of the organisation. 

The Association's first full-time National Director, Mavis Moore, was appointed in September 1999, and has since been succeeded by John Richardson.

In 2012, the decision was made to rename the charity as The Somerville Foundation, in honour of Professor Jane Somerville. 

Difficulties to be faced

To most of us, many of these young people and adults may look no different - perhaps just a little blue in the face and hands. The reality is that they may face physical limitations and an uncertain lifespan; some may need a heart transplant. For many, their normal development and education has often been impeded. They frequently feel lonely and isolated. 

Patients’ lives encompass far more than just their medical history; peer support and the advice of experts can assist them in taking a more active role in defining their own life journey. Feedback from patients shows that they use The Somerville Foundation to connect socially, to learn and get informed about their condition and about issues affecting their lifestyle. To join us visit our Community area.

Our Aims are:

  • To provide all congenital heart patients with accurate, timely information and advice, to allow them to grasp opportunities, take informed decisions and make lifestyle choices
  • To combat isolation and poverty
  • To fight discrimination through campaigns, education and promoting congenital heart patients rights
  • To enable congenital heart patients to share and learn from experiences and support each other
If you would like to help us to support young people and adults born with a heart condition, visit our Get Involved section.

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Help & Advice

Information on managing your heart condition, including Physical, Emotional and Mental Health.

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Make a donation to The Somerville Foundation today and you will help us to continue to offer the valuable services we provide to those born with a heart condition.