For its 14th year, the CRY Heart of London Bridges Walk was a different kind of event. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 event took place virtually in local communities across the UK and worldwide.
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Over 300 people pre-registered to take part in the event, with many more participating on the day. At 10.50am, live on Facebook and YouTube, the speeches started to introduce the event, followed by a 2-minute silence at 11am.
CRY Chief Executive Dr Steven Cox introduced CRY’s Founder Alison Cox to begin. “We are absolutely devastated that today we can’t be with you, that we can’t be all together,” Alison said. “We look forward to this day all year, we look back on how last year was, and we look forward to how we are going to make this year and hopefully have more and more people that find it really helpful to be able to come to this walk. Able to walk together, talk together, meet each other, find people that you have got everything you can imagine in common with having suffered the terrible tragedies that you all have.”
Professor Mary Shepherd, CRY’s Consultant Pathologist, spoke next, thanking our supporters for all they do. “I hope in the future that we will meet again at the Bridges Walk and again talk about all the exciting developments that are going on at the moment with research into sudden cardiac death. Thank you very much for all your support.”
Next to say a few words was Professor Sanjay Sharma, CRY’s Consultant Cardiologist, who spoke about the importance of CRY’s research. “This year you will walk in your gardens and the local park, and I’m extremely sorry that neither I or any member of the CRY charity group will be able to join you, but I can promise you that you will be in our thoughts. Without your support there is no chance that we could be a formidable charity. The money that you have raised has facilitated screening, research and training of young doctors. Indeed, the money that you have raised has enabled us to screen 200,000 young individuals. I can tell you now that one in 300 of those individuals have a condition that could potentially kill them, and my calculations suggest that around 700 young people have been identified with a serious cardiac condition since this programme began. We also know from our research that 60% of those people diagnosed receive some sort of treatment in the form of medications, ablation or a defibrillator suggesting that screening really does alter outcomes.”
To finish, Dr Steven Cox went on to thank our supporters during this unprecedented time. “It is incredible how, even with everything that has happened around us, you are still finding new ways to support us. Whilst we know that the next 12 months are going to be very tough, we also know that we are going to come out of this as strong as ever before. The strength of CRY has always been that you, the families, have decided to make a difference for others, through raising awareness and funding screening and research you are saving young lives and you are stopping other families go through what you have been through.”
Following the speeches, Dr Steven Cox introduced the 2-minute silence, providing the opportunity to reflect. Shortly after, CRY families departed on their own Bridges Walk across the UK, remembering those young individuals who have died suddenly.
CRY’s homepage transformed into a digital message wall, enabling supporters to upload messages and photographs with their thoughts and feelings for the day. This offered a space to connect with other CRY families. A total of 234 messages were uploaded to the digital message wall with touching displays, which remained live for 24 hours.
The Virtual Bridges Walk webpage also offered downloadable back signs for walkers to print and pin to a top or display in their window, a Bridges Walk Facebook frame, as well as other activities including a scavenger hunt at home or a ‘guess the name of the CRY teddy’ competition which had 17 entry guesses.
We would like to say thank you to all of our supporters for their kind continued support during this difficult time. The CRY Heart of London Bridges Walk is always an emotional day, and it is a special event for everyone involved. Thank you to all of our supporters for their understanding whilst we organised a very different event this year, and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2021 in Southwark Park.