CRY returns to Durham to mark its 12th annual awareness walk in the city

Sunday 19th September saw the return of charity supporters (many of whom had been tragically affected by a young sudden cardiac death in their family) taking to the streets of Durham for the 12th annual CRY Heart of Durham Walk, which to date has raised more than £80,000 for Cardiac Risk in the Young since its launch.

Walking together under the new campaign name for 2021, #MyWalkForCRY, supporters set off at 11am, taking an 8km circular route, starting and finishing at Durham Amateur Rowing Club. However, for those people who still preferred not to travel or just to stay a bit closer to home, others took part in the event remotely, walking the same distance in their local area.

Last year (due to lockdown restrictions) was the first time in over a decade that the event had to be cancelled, although many supporters did still complete a virtual walk. However, as life slowly returns to ‘normal’, walkers and supporters this year were certainly keen to be back!

Local CRY supporter David Jewell has volunteered at this flagship event for the North East for the past 5 years. He first found CRY following the tragic and sudden death of his only son, Damien, in 2001, aged just 28. Since David’s retirement in 2016, he has become an active and loyal campaigner for CRY and in recognition of this support and commitment, he was appointed the charity’s Regional Representative for Tyne and Wear.

David says; “Fellow bereaved dad, Jeff Morland, set up this important event in 2010 and, like me, knows the devastation of losing a son to young sudden cardiac death in his twenties. Jeff and all the other local volunteers who have helped the Durham Walk grow from strength to strength are so inspiring and I’m also honoured and willing to keep coming back to Durham (where we always receive such a warm welcome) to do whatever I can to help.”

He adds; “Like so many other charities, the impact of lockdown in 2020 saw CRY having to cancel the majority of its fundraising and awareness events – and the Durham Walk was no exception.

“We were able to take many events online and CRY supporters were amazing in their efforts to keep going using virtual platforms. Everyone got so creative – it was really encouraging to see. But I can’t deny, it was such a special day on Sunday, meeting up again in person and coming together to remember those we have lost, whilst continuing with our shared mission of raising awareness of CRY’s work to prevent young sudden cardiac death.”

Every week in the UK, at least 12 young people (that is aged 35 and under) die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. In 80% of these cases, there will have been no warning signs or symptoms, which is why CRY believes that screening is so vitally important. Indeed, CRY’s pioneering screening programme now tests over 30,000 young people aged 14-35 every year.

Dr Steven Cox, Chief Executive of CRY, adds; “It really was wonderful to be back in Durham as our programme of events starts to resume following such a difficult and challenging 18 months for CRY – and charities all over.

“CRY has a long and positive heritage with the people of Durham and the North East and it therefore felt right to have returned in Autumn 2021, holding this safe, and well-established outdoor event that brought bereaved families together – many of whom may not have met up since we were last here in October 2019.”