Two men holding a citation and an award.

Max Heslehurst (right) with his good friend and fellow Heart Support Australia volunteer Mike Storrier. Max shared his MNCLHD Volunteer of the Year Award with Mike, crediting the success of the cardiac rehabilitation program and “buddy” system to a “team effort”.

Cardiac team bids farewell to Max, an advocate for patients

Mar 25, 2024

Port Macquarie Base Hospital’s Cardiac teams and Heart Health NSW volunteers are mourning the passing of Max Heslehurst, a dedicated volunteer whose unwavering commitment to supporting cardiac patients has left an indelible mark on the hearts of many.

Max, a stalwart of Heart Support Australia and Heart Health NSW, devoted countless hours over the past 14 years to helping hundreds of patients at Port Macquarie Base Hospital (PMBH) on their road to recovery.

Max’s journey as a volunteer began in the Coronary Care Unit, where he, alongside his dear friend and fellow volunteer Mike Storrier, recognised the need for personalised support for cardiac patients.

Their advocacy and perseverance led to the inception of a “buddy” program in 2010, a pioneering initiative that paired former heart patients with those undergoing treatment, providing invaluable encouragement and guidance through treatment and rehabilitation.

Initially focusing on supporting carers of patients transferred to Sydney for treatment, Max and Mike provided vital information regarding accommodation, transport, and rehabilitation, easing the burdens of those undergoing challenging medical journeys.

Max’s impact extended far beyond the confines of the hospital walls. As a foundation member of the Port Macquarie-Hastings branch of Heart Support Australia, he helped spearhead initiatives that raised tens of thousands of dollars for essential hospital amenities. From funding an outdoor gymnasium to providing nurse training opportunities and enhancing hospital infrastructure, including a walking path at the rear of the hospital, Max’s efforts enhanced the quality of care for countless individuals in the community.

His selfless dedication did not go unnoticed. In 2023, Max was honoured as the Mid North Coast Local Health District Volunteer of the Year, a testament to his exceptional service and commitment. Subsequently, he was named the runner-up in the 2023 NSW Health Awards Volunteer of the Year category, further highlighting his significant contributions to healthcare and community welfare.

PMBH’s Director of Cardiology Dr Chris Alexopoulos said Max was a dedicated volunteer who advocated strongly for heart health in the Hastings community.

“He was committed to helping people better understand their heart issues and transition into their new way of life,” Dr Alexopoulos said.

“Max’s personal experiences would offer great support to patients diagnosed with heart disease which, for many, is a lifechanging event.”

PMBH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator Jannie Denyer said Max’s passion for making a difference in patients’ lives was inspirational.

“As we bid farewell to Max Heslehurst, we cherish the legacy of compassion, generosity, and dedication he leaves behind,” Ms Denyer said.

“His spirit will continue to inspire us to strive for a healthier, more supportive community, echoing his belief that small acts of kindness can truly make a monumental difference in the lives of others.”

A service celebrating Max’s life will be held at Innes Gardens Memorial Park Chapel at 1pm today, Monday 25 March. By special request, those attending are asked not to wear black.

Mike and Max with Heart Health NSW President Doug Short, at the pair’s farewell from volunteering gathering a year ago.

Heart Support and Heart Health NSW volunteers Mike Storrier and Max Heslehurst retired from active volunteering at PMBH last February. With them are Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator Jannie Denyer and Director of Cardiology Dr Chris Alexopoulos.


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