This year was the 7th year that the event had taken place -
coincidentally on the 7th day of the 7th month, with the course
crossing 7 Thames bridges!
Most importantly, it was incredibly
moving to see so many people coming together, holding their CRY
balloons and wearing personalised T-shirts, to walk in memory or
support of a friend or family member. It was also an opportunity for
people to meet up with friends, CRY staff and those who have offered
them support, as well as commemorating CRY’s ongoing work to help
reduce the incidence of young sudden cardiac death.
Walkers faced the searing heat and began
congregating in the Victoria Embankment Gardens from around 9.30am,
where members of the CRY team, as well as lots of enthusiastic
volunteers, were waiting to meet and greet them. As well as
many of CRY’s long standing supporters and participants in this
flagship event, there were also many new faces and supporters who
had made the journey to London, having been affected by the tragedy
of young sudden cardiac death.
There were a number of large groups
again this year, including the friends and family of Joe Williams
who had all travelled from Staines to walk in memory of the 23 year
old who tragically died just two months ago.
Friends and family of
One of biggest groups the event has ever
seen was made up of over 100 friends and family members of sisters
Cheryl (Christopher-Webber) and Trina (Christopher). The group was
bravely led by their mum, Vivienne, following the deaths of two of
her daughters from previously undiagnosed heart conditions - Trina
in 2005 and Cheryl just last year. Amongst the walkers were
Trina’s two daughters, Erin and Sadie, and Cheryl’s little boy,
Friends and family of
Cheryl Christopher-Webber and Trina Christopher
Whilst many people take part in the walk
in memory of a friend or family member, there are an increasing
number of families walking in support of a young person who has been
identified with a heart condition - often through screening.
One such group was led by Lesley Sellens from Kent. Her son, Jack,
was identified with a serious heart condition early last year during
a CRY screening event. Thankfully, 16 year old Jack – an aspiring
footballer – was treated promptly and is now back playing
professionally at Gillingham Football Club.
Lesley was taking part in the Bridges
Walk for the second year running to help raise funds and awareness
for CRY, as well as saying a big 'thank you' to CRY for the work it
does though its pioneering screening programme.
Walking in support of Jack Sellens
Each year there are also groups and
individuals taking part who have not been personally affected by
young sudden cardiac death or the diagnosis of a condition, but take
part simply to support CRY and its work. One such group of
walkers this year was from The Four Pillars Hotel Group, who are
supporting CRY throughout 2013. Their group of 44 walkers
comprised of Four Pillars staff and their families.
Pillars Hotel Group staff and families
Before the walkers set off - at the
slightly later time this year of 11am - there were introductions and
speeches from CRY’s Founder and Chief Executive, Alison Cox MBE and
CRY Patron Kathryn Harries, who also led a minute’s silence.
Kathryn first launched the event back in 2007 and has been a keen
supporter ever since.
CRY Founder and Chief Executive, Alison Cox MBE
CRY Patron, Kathryn Harries
This was followed by a warm up with
fitness instructor Margaret Fernandes from Eden Health Fitness Club,
Ealing, who kindly gave us her time and boundless energy (especially
impressive on such a hot day)!!
The groups then quickly and quietly
filtered through the park gates and took their first steps along the
Thames – heading towards Hays Galleria, where CRY’s welcoming party
awaited. At the finish, walkers were presented
with a certificate of thanks and fresh fruit punch made - as in
previous years - by volunteer Koula Louki.
Margaret Fernandes of Eden Health Fitness Club
Fruit punch is served to walkers at the finish
Of the event, CRY Patron John Barrowman,
said; “I’m so pleased to be supporting the charity’s ongoing
programme of activities and fundraising, especially its flagship
event which took place on Sunday July 7th. Now in its 7th
year, the Heart of London Bridges Walk has raised almost £370,000.
It is a very moving day that brings together hundreds of people and
families whose lives have been shattered by sudden cardiac death,
but who share a commitment to raising awareness for CRY.”
More photos from the day can be found here