Charlotte is the face of cardiac campaign

The face of Charlotte Wright, an eight-year-old from Sheppey who died suddenly of an undetected heart problem, is being used to help raise awareness about the growing number of people affected by the condition.

Charlotte died of cardiac sudden death in May 2002 while on an activity weekend with Halfway Houses School. Her mum Karen Jones became involved with Cardiac Risk in the Young, a charity founded in 1995 that gives support and raises funds for research.

New statistics show that on average sudden death syndrome now kills 12 young people every week, compared with eight in 2004.

In response to the rise, the charity unveiled a poster featuring the faces of 12 young people from the south-east, including Charlotte, pictured in the top row, third from the right, as part of an awareness campaign.

The charity produced a similar poster in 2004 with eight faces.

The latest poster was unfurled in a moving ceremony outside the House of Commons at noon, to the sound of Big Ben’s 12 chimes, one for each of the victims.

The idea was to alert MPs to the problem and urge them to back the charity’s calls for testing for young people. particularly those involved in sport which, although not a cause of the condition, can exacerbate it.

Chief executive and founder of the charity Alison Cox said: “As we head towards 2012, it is time to re-launch this powerful campaign to emphasise the importance of screening.

“These 12 faces are just a snapshot of the problem and we need to keep up the pressure and engage support from as many MPs as possible.”

This month, hundreds of postcards will be distributed by supporters of the charity, urging them to be forwarded to an MP.

New cards will be produced regularly over the next 18 months, portraying victims from across Britain.

What is sudden cardiac death?

Sudden cardiac death is a term used for a number of heart conditions that affect fit and healthy people which, if not treated, can result in a dramatic or spontaneous death.

In about one in 20 cases of sudden cardiac death, no recognised cause can be found., This is then called sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

Many experts claim the number of deaths recorded could just be the tip of the iceberg with many causes being wrongly recorded as asthma, epilepsy or even drowning.