A mum from Essex who has raised over £125,000 for Cardiac Risk in Young (CRY) and worked tirelessly to promote the importance of heart screening in young people, has been awarded with a British Empire Medal in the Queens New Year’s Honours list, for services to Young People and charity.
Caroline Gard (65) from Frinton, first became involved with CRY following the sudden death of her son Andy, from a previously undiagnosed heart condition in July 1997. A talented sportsman and popular A-level student at Colchester Grammar School, he was aged just 17 when he tragically died, two days away from his 18th birthday.
Founder of CRY, Alison Cox MBE, comments; “I was so very pleased to learn that Caroline Gard has been awarded a British Empire Medal for Services to Young People and charity.
“Caroline was one of the first families to contact CRY over 20 years ago and quickly became involved in helping us with the services we were developing.”
Since 1999, the Gard family has funded 27 days of CRY’s specialist screening in memory of Andy, leading to almost 1990 young, local people being tested for hidden – and potentially dangerous – heart conditions.
Speaking to her local press when the news about her recent Honour was first revealed, Caroline said; “When something like this happens, you’re completely at a loss and don’t know what to think.
“But looking back, it wasn’t all for nothing, something good came out of something horrendous.
“I recall one youngster who didn’t know he had a problem, which was easily sorted out with treatment. He was about to go on holiday and he probably wouldn’t have survived it.
“This award is really for everybody who has helped to raise money for the cause, including friends, family and all supporters.”
Every week in the UK, at least 12 young (aged 35 and under) people die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. In the vast majority of cases, the first sign of a problem will be the last sign and therefore the only way to detect a potentially fatal cardiac abnormality is through proactive cardiac screening by specially trained cardiologists.
CRY firmly believes that every young person should have the choice to be screened and currently offers a national screening service where anyone aged 14-35 can access free cardiac tests. As such, CRY’s expert teams currently test around 30,000 young people every year – with community screenings across the UK accessible in just 3 clicks @ www.testmyheart.org.uk
Alison Cox adds; “Caroline trained with our first group of Bereavement Supporters and for over 10 years was always available to support other mothers whose child had died from a young sudden cardiac death.
“She initiated our first external screening centre at her local hospital in Colchester and provided a very valuable part of the construction of our national Bereavement Support Days.
“Caroline’s fundraising events at her home town of Frinton ensured everyone between 14 and 35 in the region became aware of young sudden cardiac death and had the opportunity to be screened.
“Her courage in coping with the tragic death of her young son Andy has inspired many others to find a way of managing their own dreadful loss.
“We are indebted to her commitment to CRY.”