Kent Online, 28th June 2019
In the week of what would have been his son’s 18th birthday, Steve Hammond has chosen to use his voice to raise awareness of death due to undiagnosed heart conditions in order to spare other families the pain his own had to endure. In July of 2016, Steve’s son, Ben, passed away just over a week after his 15th birthday. After a day cycling with friends, he complained of feeling sick and later that night was admitted to hospital where he died of an undiagnosed heart condition. “It would have been Ben’s 18th birthday on June 24 and we should have been celebrating him becoming an adult,” said Steve. In a message to other parents, he added: ” Ben was fit and active, so don’t assume that just because your children appear fit and healthy it means there is nothing wrong, but with a simple test a potential problem could be solved and a life saved.”
After Ben’s death Team Ben Hammond (TBH) was established to raise funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) in order to provide free heart screenings tests to young people ages 14 – 35. Thus far, TBH have raised thousands for CRY through various fundraising activities including marathon runs, cake sales and beer festivals; funding screenings at Homewood School in Tenterden. Steve revealed that, at first, he thought that raising the £2000 needed for a place in the London Marathon would prove challenging. However, the marathon fundraising page set up by TBH runners Phil Sweatman and Nick Vincent raised £6150 in donations and within 6 months the team had amassed £8500 with which to fund their first screening event with CRY. In the first two screenings at the Homewood School where 198 young people were tested, eight of them were referred for further testing after having been discovered to have previously undiagnosed heart conditions.
“This made all our efforts seem worthwhile; to think that we had possibly saved lives through our fundraising and that it would mean that other families wouldn’t have to go through what myself, Sheralyn, Archie [his wife and younger son] and our extended family and friends, not forgetting Ben’s friends had to go through,” said Steve, adding: ” “We didn’t know these simple tests were available and I certainly wish we had Ben checked out, but it’s too late now that’s why, for Team Ben Hammond, raising awareness is just as important as raising funds.” Read More