On the 3rd of January 2016 my family suffered the tragic loss of my dear nephew Harley Curtis Brandon at just 21, to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. Harley was a giant of a man who, when you first saw him and before speaking to him you might think was scary and trouble, you couldn’t be more wrong. He was gentle, kind, considerate of others, and if you needed help he would do his very best to be there for you.
I know you may think as his aunt I am biased, but I heard how selfless he was from a eulogy read at his celebration of life by his Brighton university classmates (whom I, nor his family had previously met), which told a story of how he got up in the early hours of the morning and went to pick two friends up from a night out, this is only a small part of what they had to say about Harley; “I once recall him riding his motorbike for over an hour around Shoreham, in order save two stranded friends from a cold night of rough sleeping after a festival. He made two journeys dropping them both back to the safety of their own homes.”
Family and friends have organised quite a few events in Harley’s memory, and I decided that I wanted to help raise awareness and some well needed funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young as the charity his mum and family have chosen to support. The CRY site helped her find the information to explain the cause of death the coroner had given her after losing her fit and healthy young son in the blink of an eye, and some literature to give the three sisters Harley has left behind, to try and help them understand what had happened to their brother and how to deal with their feelings from that huge loss.
I kind of knew Sudden Adult death Syndrome existed but I did not know what it actually was, what the causes and symptoms were, or who it could affect.
Until Harley died, I, like the rest of his family, had never heard of CRY or what they do, but now we know and in Harleys name we will try to do our bit to help prevent so many families suffering the heartache we have.
Having successfully organised charity auction events in the past, what better way for me to help raise awareness and funds in Harley’s memory?
‘The Catmose Club’ Oakham kindly donated the use of the hall for free because it was for a charity event. Prior to securing the venue for the auction I had been around local shops and businesses asking them for non-monetary donations. I placed adverts on social media, local selling sites and asked friends and family to spread the word of the event as well as the need for items to auction. The response I received for non-monetary donations was overwhelming and generous. Some of the items kindly donated were:
A very large Fresh Fruit Basket, Tea Pot Set, Handmade Crafts, Overnight Glamping Voucher, a BBQ, an Orchid from a local florist, a Fire Pit, Beauty Pamper Package, Photoshoot vouchers and Hairdresser voucher and many more as you can see from the pictures.
I contacted the local radio and newspaper asking if they would help in advertising the event which they kindly did. I also invited them to attend.
On the day of the event we had a lovely spokesperson, Rosemary, from CRY come along and speak to those who had attended about what the charity does and share her experiences as well as Harleys Mum (my sister in law), Michelle.
Sadly we did have a few disappointments on the day such as people not turning up who had previously offered their services, poor attendance from the public and no radio or newspaper coverage on the actual day. Despite all of that, with the friends, neighbours and locals that did come along on the 1st of July 2017 to support us we managed to raise £901.10.
Even though the attendance wasn’t as good as I had hoped I do know that I have managed to get some awareness and information out there with the use of leaflets, as well as Rosemary and Michelle sharing their personal experiences.
I want to thank everyone who gave our family their support and their money for such a good cause.