CRY Heart of London Bridges Walk 2013

It seems as though three records may have been broken on Sunday July 7th 2013! The first British winner of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles in 77 years; soaring temperatures making it the hottest day of the year so far; and over 1,200 willing walkers travelling to Central London to take part in the annual CRY Heart of London Bridges Walk – the largest number of participants the charity has ever seen.

As ever, it was a poignant yet positive occasion – more so this year as the charity marks its 18th anniversary. 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.

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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, Freddie.

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

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.

Four Pillars Hotel Group staff and families

Four 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.

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.

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.”
Our thanks…

We would like to thank the following organisations for their support of the Bridges Walk this year.

We would like to thank the following for their co-operation in the planning of this event:

  • Transport for London
  • City of London Police
  • City of London Corporation events team
  • Southwark Council events team
  • Charing Cross Police

The event simply cannot happen without our dedicated army of on-the-day volunteers, who inflate balloons; marshal the route; hand out drinks and certificates; man CRY stands; and help to clear up. A huge thank you to:

Martin Appleby, Nigel Bennett, Paul Bishop, Daryl Bradbrook, George Button, Hollie Button, Nancy Button, Krisztina Cserhalmi, Fiona Cunningham, Philip Eastty, Vernon Elmes, Colin Gallagher, Barbara Holland, Jim Holland, Carl Johnson, Eunice Johnson, Stephanie Kennedy, Juliet Lamin, John Lawless, Erin Lee, Barbara Lidbury, Julie Lockton, Koula Louki, Irena McCabe, Maureen McGregor, Vanessa Morrison, Carol Nicholls, Tony Nicholls, Jo Pickard, Pete Robinson, Sue Robinson, Linda Taylor, Thomas Telford, Becci Upson, Julien Upson, Rowena Upson, Sue Walton, Bex Wilkin, Lizzi Wood, Gerry Wright and Will Wright.

What this walk achieves for CRY:

Sponsorship and donations raised from the 2013 Bridges Walk went towards funding CRY’s Research Fellowship Programme, which is essential to the services we offer. CRY currently funds 6 doctors, for 2 years, who specialise in the field of inherited cardiac conditions, sudden cardiac death, screening and sports cardiology. The research that they produce advances our understanding of conditions that can lead to young sudden cardiac death. £50,000 will fund a Research Fellow for 1 year, so if 1000 people raise £50 each in sponsorship we could fund a Research Fellow’s valuable work for a full year.

For every £1 donated to fund a Research Fellow:

  • 50p will go towards fast track screening services for families who have been affected by young sudden cardiac death
  • 30p will go towards medical research into young sudden cardiac death
  • 20p will go towards our national screening programme for young people (aged 14-35 years)

Over one year, a CRY funded Research Fellow will:

  • Facilitate 250 fast-track referrals to the CRY Centre for Inherited Cardiovascular Conditions and Sports Cardiology at St George’s Hospital, London. Families can be seen at these fast-track clinics within a few weeks of referral after the sudden death of a family member.
  • Publish at least 2 peer reviewed articles in leading journals and present their research at international conferences.
  • Support the screening of 12,000 people. CRY Research Fellows carry out consultations with every person CRY tests, and manage any abnormal screening results.