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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
Heart charity anger over poster
Part of the poster
The poster has been raising blood pressures
A Northern Ireland heart charity has claimed it is being pilloried over a poster campaign by a UK-wide rival.

Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke said it is being blamed for a risque British Heart Foundation poster featuring a naked man on a beach.

The poster shows him embracing a woman in a swimsuit, with the message sex and swimming are good for the heart.

Andrew Dougal of NICHS said people had been threatening to stop donating to the charity over the posters.

"We have had letters and phone calls from people threatening not to give us any more money," he said.

"In fact, we understand their views entirely. We have never used shock tactics or sexual imagery in our campaigns and never will."

He said they believed part of the problem was that the British Heart Foundation has dropped the word British from its title in Northern Ireland, so people assume there is only one local heart charity.

Betty McBride of the British Heart Foundation said the response to the seemingly controversial poster had in fact been "fantastic".

"So far 27,000 people have asked for our free information pack. And there were over 10,000 visits to the campaign website in the first two weeks alone," she said.

"We booked poster space until Sunday 6 May so this element of the campaign has ended.

"However, the website, leaflet distribution and other campaign activities will continue for months to come."

Ms McBride added that her organisation is proud of the contribution it is "making to saving lives in Northern Ireland".

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