Interview with Ryan Heal - Rockinghorse Children’s Charity Chief Executive

Ryan Heal - photo by Graham Franks

Ryan Heal - photo by Graham Franks - Credit: Archant

Ryan Heal is Chief Executive of Rockinghorse Children’s Charity. This proud Brightonian had a powerful and personal reason for changing career, and is tireless in his support for local charities

Ryan Heal had a very particular and personal reason for his career change. Having worked in radio for most of his working life (he used to run Juice 107.2 and remains a non-executive director, before that he was at Southern for many years), he had built good relationships with local children’s charities. Then his son John became very ill with a blood condition. Ryan and his family became regular visitors at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Ryan saw first-hand the work that the charity Rockinghorse did there. He asked how he could help – and it turned out that the charity was in search of a new Chief Executive.

Ryan brought his formidable contacts and fundraising abilities to his new post, and feels it is his duty to help other families like his own. Rockinghorse is the fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and the Trevor Mann Baby Unit and many families from across Sussex will know someone who has been treated there.

So Ryan has more on his plate than most, but what does he do in his free time? His favourite, he says, is: “spending time with my children Emma, 10, Elizabeth, nine, and John, seven, in whatever capacity. I tend to provide a shuttle service between children’s parties and sports clubs when I’m not at work!” As you would expect from this proud Brightonian who grew up in the city and was educated at Brighton College, he is a staunch supporter of the Sussex landscape – “where else can you have the most amazing coastal and seaside views within minutes of the beautiful rolling Downs?” – he asks. From the family home in Saltdean, Ryan enjoys a view of the sea on one side and the Downs to the other, which he says sums up the Sussex landscape perfectly.

When time allows, a visit to the Sussex Ox in Polegate provides a great pick-me-up. “It’s the perfect place for a warm winter pint out of the way in relative peace and quiet. And for a quick bit or a cuppa, Bill’s has the best atmosphere of any café-style environment.” For more formal dining, he would choose “any of the restaurants in the Gingerman portfolio. Ginger Dog, Ginger Pig, Ginger Fox, all incredible in their own unique way. They deserve every accolade that comes their way.” And for a special occasion? “Only one place for me: The Grand Hotel, Brighton. Sometimes you don’t need too many reasons why – The Grand is The Grand. Other venues may enjoy being flavour of the month but the history and elegance of the Grand makes it number one for me.”

“Having spent my time at Rockinghorse urging and begging supporters to run on our behalf, I soon realised it would be only fair to get involved myself. To say I’m not a runner is the understatement of the century, but I remain as motivated by the Rockinghorse cause as any other supporter. To date I’ve completed a half marathon and in April will take on the London Marathon.” Rockinghorse still holds a few spaces for the 2015 Brighton Marathon on Sunday 12 April. To take part in aid of Rockinghorse, call Lauren on 01273 330044.


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