“It’s been a tough couple of years and we’re going to do all we can to support the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young” – that’s the promise from Sunrise Radio’s Tony Lit, who is helping to kick off the national campaign, Heart Month, with the exciting news that the award-winning commercial station will be continuing its partnership with CRY, raising awareness of the work it’s doing to prevent sudden cardiac death in young people.
Tony (who is also an official Ambassador for CRY) is a highly respected figure in the media industry and a well-known political campaigner for communities and social justice. Tony first approached CRY following the sudden death of the only son of a family friend from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He was aged just 17 and was a fit and sporty young man, with his death sending shockwaves throughout his local community and beyond. As a father of 3, Tony was deeply moved by this tragedy and pledged, “whatever support Sunrise Radio and I can give personally, over and above, I shall do so.”
Initially, the partnership began in January 2020, comprising of spot advertising, community messaging, and broadcasting prime time interviews and testimonials with CRY’s medical and policy experts and families affected by young sudden cardiac death.
And, despite the pressures and uncertainty of the pandemic and national lockdown at the time, the partnership reached a peak in March 2021, when presenter Anushka Arora hosted an incredible 36-hour live broadcast marathon, raising £10,000 for CRY as well as raising a priceless awareness for the charity.
In addition to regular interviews with CRY doctors, cardiologists, staff and families from the British Asian community who had been affected by the tragedy of a young sudden cardiac death, a special hour during the Marathon was co-hosted with acclaimed singer-song writer Arjun – live from the Sunrise Studios in memory of his wife, Natasha, who tragically died from a sudden cardiac arrest in September 2018, aged just 30.
Sunrise Radio has a strong heritage of pioneering charitable campaigns and collaborations, having been awarded the Cancer Research UK Flame of Hope Award for Media Supporter of the Year (2019) in recognition of its commitment to raising awareness of Cancer Research UK’s positive work amongst the British Asian community.
Tony Lit reiterates: “The responsibility of running an iconic radio service like Sunrise Radio goes beyond selling commercials and programming entertaining airtime. Sunrise is now in its 33rd year of broadcasting to the South Asian community and – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been relied upon as a source for important community messages, news and information. It’s vital that we ‘do our bit’ and support charitable organisations like CRY. There can be nothing worse than needlessly losing a young life. That’s why awareness campaigns like this are so important, working together with CRY to save young lives and invoke real change in communities across the UK.”
“Due to the pressures of the pandemic, our partnership ended up looking a little different to the original plans but I am still very proud of everything my team and our listeners achieved during this time – and now I really want 2022 to be the year that Sunrise raises as much awareness as possible!”
Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young (aged 35 and under) people in the UK die suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect. In 80% of these cases, there will have been no signs or symptoms until it is too late, which is why CRY believes proactive, heart screening is so vitally important (particularly for those involved in regular, physical activity).
CRY now tests around 32,000 young people each year, aged between 14 and 35 and well over 225,000 since the screening programme was launched in 1995. The programme is overseen by Consultant Cardiologist Professor Sanjay Sharma, one of the world’s leading experts in inherited heart condition and sports cardiology.
Dr Steven Cox, CRY’s Chief Executive, adds: “There’s no doubt that the past 24 months have been some of the toughest we’ve ever encountered as a charity, and we’re very aware of how difficult it’s been across the entire sector. During lockdown, we had to cancel thousands of screening appointments and whilst we’re delighted to be ‘back out on the road’ with our screening teams, we are still working through a huge waiting list to ensure as many young people as possible have access to specialist cardiac screening. Awareness of our efforts, the need to raise funds and encouraging people to sign up to our events has never been more important – and that’s why we’re so pleased to be working with Tony and the team at Sunrise Radio again on such a positive media collaboration.
“Young sudden cardiac death is indiscriminate – it takes young people, at the prime of their lives from every community and ethnic background across the UK. We’re committed to ensuring that CRY has a strong voice in the British Asian community, spreading our messages widely about the importance of cardiac screening, research and bereavement support.
“Tony’s ongoing generosity and passion for making a difference is allowing us to do just this and we are all extremely grateful for his support – as well as excited by the potential of this partnership.”
To support CRY’s Sunrise Radio campaign, please click here.