104-year-old Joan Willett walked up and down a steep hill to raise money for the British Heart Foundation

This extraordinary 104-year-old raised a staggering amount of money during lockdown for a charity that means a lot to her - The British Heart Foundation.  Credit: ITV News Meridian

Three months ago, we began our search for the ITV Meridian Fundraiser of the Year, as part of the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards.  While there can't be an awards ceremony this year, we couldn't let the year pass without celebrating those local heroes.

All this week, we'll tell you about our region's four finalists and on Friday, we'll be crowing one of them as the Meridian winner.  

Joan Willett

This extraordinary 104-year-old raised a staggering amount of money during lockdown for a charity that means a lot to her - The British Heart Foundation.  As a double heart attack survivor she wanted to do something to help others.  

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Wilkins:

For 7 weeks, Joan Willet walked up and down the steep hill next to her residential home in Hastings, 4 times a day. She completed her challenge on her 104th Birthday. 

Joan had an original target of raising £500 for the British Heart Foundation. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends and even strangers, Joan has raised a whole lot more.

In her 80s, Joan suffered her 2nd heart attack which led to her having life saving heart surgery.  Now the charity couldn't be more grateful for what she's achieved. 


So grateful to Joan for her incredible and heroic efforts. She's an inspiration to every person in the British Heart Foundation. Her contribution will directly help power life-saving research at a time when we need support more than ever.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths- Chief Executive, The British Heart Foundation

Joan says she couldn't have done it without the unwavering support of her friends and staff at the home - in particular her good friend Eileen. 

  • Eileen Hodd (friend) and Pauline Glenet (carer)


The thing that's been most pleasing to Joan is the messages that have come from around the nation- around how it's inspired them to positive at a very challenging time.

Jason Denny- Home manager

In recognition of what she's achieved a video of Joan appeared at Piccadilly Circus, and she even caught the attention of fellow centenarian and fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore. 

She even caught the attention of fellow centenarian and fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore

What's even better is she's been nominated her for Pride of Britain award, but of course Joan is taking it all in her stride.