Charity work keeps son's memory alive

Robert Lancaster was just 21 when he collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart condition.

The former pupil at St Edwards School, North Oxford, passed away in Canada last year while in a queue for a ski lift.

Since his death, his family have raised £160,000 for a charity which supports families who have lost a loved one to Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

In about one in every 20 cases of sudden cardiac death, no definite cause of death can be found, even after the heart has been examined by an expert cardiac pathologist.

It is thought that cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS) may be partly due to the same causes responsible for SADS.

The charity CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young, offers help, support and counselling to families where there has been a sudden cardiac death of an apparently fit and healthy young person.

The Lancaster's are organising a New Year's Eve Ball at Heythrop Park, near Chipping Norton, to raise thousands more for the charity.

Robert's brother Richard, 27, who is also a former pupil of the school, said he hoped 180 to 350 people would turn up for the £60-a-head black tie event.

The former Oxford Brookes University student said: "Robert's death was devastating for the entire family.

We have held numerous fundraising events throughout the year, and have succeeded in raising £160,000, including donations from corporate sponsors.

Robert was always very lively and outgoing, so we have tried to make the charity events as fun as possible.

Recalling his brother's death on March 3 last year, he said: "Robert was on a ski trip in Whistler, Canada, with my parents Jim and Margaret, and their friends Steve and Lynne Maher.

Robert and Steve went for one last run and Robert complained of feeling faint in the queue for the lift. There was a doctor in the queue who tried to resuscitate Robert, but research afterwards showed that he was probably dead before he hit the ground.

Robert had started a job selling computer software for the mortgage industry, and a full medical didn't pick anything up.

The ball includes a three-course meal, champagne, wine and a live band.

For tickets, call Charlotte Berkin on 07747 813 400 or email

For further information about SADS, call CRY on 01737 363 222. Alternatively, visit the websites