When Richard Brember died in June 2018, aged 32, of an undiagnosed cardiac problem, he had just been appointed 2nd XV skipper at Farnham RUFC.
His family became aware of the work that Cardiac Risk In The Young (CRY) were doing to better understand and support families affected. One of CRY’s key elements is to provide cardiac screening sessions for people aged 14-35 to help identify early symptoms to reduce the 12 who die every week in the UK with so much of their lives unfulfilled. Many are athletes, from across all sports, whose physical exertion levels are potentially stressing their conditions more than those who are more sedentary.
Based on evidence from abroad, CRY believe that 90% of these fatalities could be avoided if routine screening of the population was undertaken and they continue to lobby government for this. However, as an interim, they provide mobile screening teams around the UK, mainly through memorial funds.
It was this that kicked off the family’s target of raising £18,500, in memory of Rich, to fund a screening at each of his three community clubs. The target was met before the end of 2018 and screenings were duly held in 2019.
Unfortunately, this decision coincided with the Covid pandemic with hundreds of CRY screenings postponed and a corresponding backlog to eventually recover. Also, in common with many charities, CRY faced an existential funding impact that meant they emerged from the pandemic with less screening capacity than before it. This meant a more than two-year delay before screening sessions resumed.
Havant had the first of these on the 1st October and the other two clubs have theirs booked in December and May respectively. Each screening can accommodate 100 young people, who get an ECG, an ultrasound Echocardiogram (if deemed necessary) and a consultation with a cardiologist to review the results and medical/family history. Most will be given a green light, but some may be referred to their GPs for a follow up, or for more extensive tests.
Including the clubs’ contributions, Richard’s CRY fund has now reached over £65,000 – almost 500 people have been screened and it has also made a considerable donation to CRY core funding to keep research and support going through the pandemic.
Gordon said: “If we can prevent one or two families experiencing what we have had to go through it will be worthwhile. In the absence of a national screening programme I’d encourage other clubs to consider running screening sessions, maybe in conjunction with other local clubs.”