The Daniels family from Bickley, near Chislehurst, hosted a free cardiac screening session for teenagers from local sports clubs, in memory of their son, Ben, who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition last year. He was aged just 15.
Ben collapsed without warning whilst playing football with his Ex Blues FC teammates on March 5th 2011. Despite the heroic efforts of his coach, team mates, paramedics and the staff at St. Thomas hospital, he passed away three day later on 8th March.
Following Ben’s tragic death, his parents – Paul and Helena – and friends established the Ben Daniels Memorial Fund, to help raise awareness of young sudden cardiac death and to fund screening sessions in partnership with CRY. Thanks to the support of friends, family and the local community the Fund has already raised over £50,000 (the fund has an initial target of £100,000).
The fund was officially launched on March 16th, just before the sudden collapse of Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba.
Every week in the UK, 12 young people (aged 35 and under) lose their lives to sudden cardiac death – a statistic that is believed to be a conservative estimate. A staggering 80% of these apparently healthy young people who die from young sudden cardiac death will have shown no previous sign of heart defects.
It is now widely accepted that testing saves lives, reinforcing the importance of the CRY screening programme which now tests over 8,500 young people each year.
The screening event in Chislehurst was attended by local MP, Bob Neill MP. He said: “The sudden and unexpected death of Ben Daniels last year was a desperately sad event and he clearly meant the world to his family, his friends and all those who were lucky enough to compete with him in the sports he loved.
“I have no doubt that our local community will continue to get behind the Ben Daniels Memorial Fund, which has been set up by his parents to help reduce the number of similar tragedies which rob young people of life so prematurely. We can all do our bit to honour Ben’s memory by supporting the Fund and encouraging our young people to attend a cardiac screening session – regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms or not.”
Chief Executive and Founder of CRY, Alison Cox MBE, said: “During this Olympic year, and in the wake of the collapse of Fabrice Muamba, there is heightened awareness of athletes and elite sportspeople who may be at risk of sudden cardiac death – although most cases will occur within the community, in young people who enjoy sport at a grass roots level.
“We are very pleased to be working with the Ben Daniels Memorial Fund and are extremely grateful for their ongoing fundraising. It takes enormous courage for a family who has been affected by young sudden cardiac death to be able to see beyond their own tragedy and want to raise funds for CRY to help save another life and prevent other families from having to suffer in the way they have.”
All 100 places for the screening were filled, due to the high profile of the memorial fund as well as Ben’s involvement with a number of local sports clubs up until his death – including Old Elthamians CC, Ravens Wood School, Ex Blues FC, and Bromley Tennis Club. On the day, 108 young people were screened by CRY. The Ben Daniels Memorial Fund will also be sponsoring another screening session later in the year at Ravens Wood School.
Ben’s father, Paul, added: “This screening event is an important milestone for Ben’s Fund and is a fitting and very special tribute to Ben – who is missed by so many of his school friends and sporting colleagues. He was such a role model and team player – we just knew we had to do something positive in his memory.
“I can’t thank our friends, neighbours and Ben’s friends enough for their efforts and energy in helping us to raise funds for – and continued awareness of the importance of – cardiac screening in young people.”