THIS IS your chance to make a difference.

That is the message from actress Sarah Parish who is calling on you to help save children’s heart surgery in Southampton and join her as she takes the fight to the streets of the city.

The Cutting It star has blasted the “bizarre and crazy” situation that has put the world-class unit at risk and will stand side by side with hundreds of campaigners who are expected to pack Guildhall Square to confront visiting health bosses tomorrow.

She is urging everybody to take action by joining her and doing what is right to help ensure the unit at Southampton General Hospital is there to save the tiny hearts of our poorly youngsters for years to come.

Joining Sarah on the day will be her husband, actor James Murray, hospital bosses, doctors, nurses, politicians and families who have all been fighting hard since February to show how vital and valued children’s heart surgery in Southampton is.

Sarah and James have experienced the heartache of losing their eight-month-old daughter, Ella-Jayne, through a rare heart condition but were overwhelmed by the care and support offered by the specialist team in Southampton.

She has thanked the 85,000 people who have already signed the Daily Echo’s Have a Heart petition and hopes that many of those who have put pen to paper will take to the streets tomorrow to have their say.

Sarah told the Daily Echo: “It is of the utmost importance to keep this cardiac unit open because we never know what’s going to happen in our lives. Of course, we hope nothing terrible will happen but when it does this unit is the best you are going to get and it deserves to stay open.

“Thank you so much for everyone’s support and encouragement through signing the petition and I know it means an awful lot to the staff, an incredible bunch of people, without whom I don’t know what I would have done.

“You wouldn’t get better heart surgery anywhere else so thanks for your support and let’s keep it going and make a difference.”

Despite being ranked the second best in the country our paediatric heart unit is under threat as health chiefs look to cut the UK’s 11 centres down to six or seven.

Southampton was featured in just one of four options which will be put out for public consultation, before the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts makes its final decision.

If Southampton closed, families would be forced to go to units in London or Bristol, which experts say fell below the “exemplary”

standards at Southampton.

Sarah added: “It is ludicrous that the second best unit in the country is even being considered for closing.”

Visit the government consultation website

Daily Echo: Daily Echo Have a Heart Campaign to save paediatric heart surgery in Southampton

Download the Have a Heart petition

Print out, get as many signatures as you can and return to us.
Daily Echo: Have a Heart poster

Download the Have a Heart poster

Print out our A4 sized Have a Heart poster