Darwen families' ten years of campaigning pays off

Ten years of campaigning for heart screening has paid off for two families who lost their sons to sudden cardiac death.

Irene Wickers, of Darwen, and the Staff family from Hoddlesden set up the North West branch of CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) in the 1990’s.

They have since worked to raise thousands of pounds for annual screening days in Darwen.

Now they are celebrating that a pioneering cardiac screening clinic in the North West will be opened at Liverpool John Moores University on Monday.

The service will be available to all people under the age of 35 in the region who wish to be screened.

Screening involves a painless electrocardiogram (ECG) test, which produces a print-out of the heart’s electrical activity, which can then be evaluated by a cardiologist.

Irene’s son Neil died, aged 31, when he collapsed at the Albion Mill gym in 1996.

The Staff family’s son, David, died aged 17 after finishing a 10k road race in 1994.

Pictures of David and Neil will also be featured on a new promotional postcard to be unveiled on the same day that screening is launched.

They will be distributed by CRY families and supporters to people across the North West urging them to send it back to their local MP.

It is hoped the influx of postcards will encourage politicians to add their support to the campaign for better screening for heart defects.

Latest figures now show that on average, 12 people every week die in the UK from sudden cardiac death, a 50 per cent increase on previous estimates.

The chief executive and founder of CRY, Alison Cox, said: “Our screening clinic in the North West will provide an essential and regular service for any young (35 and under) person wanting to be tested.

This important clinic is an essential part of the expansion of our screening service throughout the UK.