After more than 30 years, CRY Founder Alison Cox MBE retires
After dedicating more than 30 years to Cardiac Risk in the Young, CRY’s founder, Alison Cox has taken the decision that now is the time for her to retire. When Alison first began raising awareness of cardiac conditions in apparently fit and healthy young people, she was often dismissed by professionals who, at the time, believed this to be exceptionally rare.
Unconvinced, undeterred, and unwilling to accept that apparently fit and healthy young people were dying of undiagnosed cardiac conditions, Alison tenaciously persevered and the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young was formed.
To date, CRY has screened the hearts of over 270,000 young people, is producing world renowned research and has supported thousands of families. On behalf of CRY’s trustees, staff and families, I would like to thank Alison for everything that she has done. Quite simply, CRY would not exist without her.
CRY Chairman, Hugh Mulcahey
To all of you, CRY’s supporters, I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ for everything you have done to help save so many young lives. I never imagined I would start a charity, and could never envisage being part of something which has had such a tremendous impact.
The charity has changed so much since it started in a back room in my house. Thanks to you, CRY has changed the way our society thinks about young sudden cardiac death. CRY families will often say that they have become a member of a club that no one would ever want to join. I hope that CRY has been able to offer a safe space for families to begin to find a way forward, a place where they feel they are not alone and where people understand. Nothing has been more important to me than talking with CRY families
I have spoken with more than 2,000 parents, partners, siblings, grandparents, and children after a tragedy. It has meant so much that you have trusted me to try to help you. I would like to say how incredible you all are, for being able to confront what has happened, the terrible tragedy your family has suffered.
When I founded CRY I had just finished training to become a counsellor but very early on I could see how important it was for families to be able to talk to another family in a similar situation.
The bereavement support programme has made a critical contribution and continues to grow with the next group of supporters currently undertaking their training to join a truly incredible group who give so much to help other families.
Change occurs in many ways and often it is when you get support in the corridors or power that breakthroughs can happen. There have been so many memorable moments in parliament, with Kevan Jones MP chairing the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cardiac Risk in the Young and driving forward some of the advances we take for granted today.
Whilst cardiac screening is not yet routine throughout the NHS, it is very much within the mindset of many people. Screening is now routine for most elite athletes, as well as some professions, and 10s of thousands of young people are going through the CRY screening programme every
year, which is quite incredible.
As increasing numbers of young people are screened, there will be more young people living with conditions. All the young myheart members have really opened my eyes to such courage in adjusting to their diagnoses, as well as showing how important it is to identify heart conditions early.
When I started CRY nobody talked about young people dying suddenly from heart conditions, no one believed it could happen. There were just a few cardiologists with an interest in these conditions. But now the momentum for change is unstoppable.
There are many cardiologists, pathologists, geneticists and researchers in the UK and throughout the world who are doing so much to better understand the causes of young sudden cardiac death and how tragedies can be prevented. It is no longer “if something will change”, it is now just a matter of time before the science informs the changes which are required.
I would like give a special thank you to Professor Sanjay Sharma and Professor Mary Sheppard. When I first met Sanjay I knew something extraordinary was about to happen and it did! We were lucky to have him. Sanjay took an immediate interest when he was training to become a cardiologist and he has been making such an invaluable contribution to CRY’s efforts to raise awareness of these deadly conditions ever since.
When I first heard Mary speak about cardiac pathology I remember thinking that we would achieve so much if we could work together. She was determined that there should be more attention on understanding the cause of death and to investigate every possible reason for these
terrible tragedies, and through the CRY Centre for Cardiac Pathology we have been supporting families in this way for over 15 years.
CRY’s research has transformed the understanding of young sudden cardiac death. It is wonderful to see so many cardiologists like Professor Michael Papadakis who are part of this incredible team, continue to produce world-leading research which is helping to save young lives.
Over the past 30 years I have been privileged to have worked with so many wonderful, courageous and committed families who have done so much in so many different ways. Thank you all for your incredible dedication to save young lives and prevent other families from experiencing such a devastating tragedy.
I will always be a committed supporter of CRY and will continue to follow the charity’s achievements. Although now is the time for me to step back, I want all families to know that CRY’s team remains dedicated to raising awareness, breaking ground with new research and of course, screening the hearts of young people.
Most of all I want CRY families to know that CRY is there to support you and to help in any way possible to reduce your suffering. CRY cannot take it from you. CRY cannot grieve for you. But CRY can be there for the long haul. I am proud to have been there at CRY’s start and for so many years to have been given the chance to be your voice in fighting for change.
Alison Cox MBE