Family raising funds for heart screening in memory of Jake Pickford

The family of a talented young footballer who died in his sleep are helping children get their heart screened in his memory. Jake Pickford, 16, from Abertysswg, near Rhymney, died suddenly on August 15, 2018, and was discovered when his sister Chloe went to wake him for food.

Over the last four years, his heartbroken family have raised over £20,000 for heart screening charity Cardiac Risk In The Young (CRY). They are using the money to get pupils at Jake’s school, Idris Davies School, screened. They are calling for better accessibility of heart screening in the wider population as well as hoping to raise awareness of the risks of SADS in young people.

Remembering Jack, his mum Gaye, 56, said: “Everything we used to do was always as a family of five [along with Jake’s father, Paul, and younger brother, Alfie] . He was very quiet and very loving. He loved spending time on his Xbox and he loved his football – football meant the world to him. Just before he passed away he started going out with his friends more regularly. His friends have been really, really supportive, it hit them very badly. It doesn’t just affect the families when something like this happens.”

“SADS can be caused by no apparent reason at all, but does seem to happen quite a lot in young athletic people. Jake had been perfectly fine, there had been no health issues with him at all. It was such a shocking thing to happen.

“We have since found out that on average this happens to at least 12 young people every week aged between 14 and 35 in the UK. Some of these can be prevented through cardiac screening. This is why we feel it is so important to do the screening – it could prevent this from happening to another family.

“It can happen because there may be an underlying heart issue that has never been detected. Equally though, there can be no symptoms whatsoever. In Jake’s case, his post-mortem showed no abnormalities whatsoever. It can happen completely out of the blue which is why they think it was SADS.”

Chloe added: “I don’t think many people think that something like that could happen. Just because they are so fit and healthy and always on the go, just like Jake who loved his football. You just wouldn’t expect it to happen to someone like that.”