Fears for my boys

The grieving father and brothers of a talented young footballer who tragically died during a match will have themselves checked for the rare disorder which claimed his life.

Paul Leach, 23, collapsed and died just over ten minutes into a game for Preston Farm Motors against Eston and California at Smith Dock Park in Normanby.

An inquest at Teesside Coroner's Court heard how Paul died of cardiac arrest and acute cardiac failure during the game.

Pathologist Jan Lowe said the death was brought on by a rare condition call arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy [ARVC] where fat and scar tissue begins appearing on the heart.

He added: "Sudden and unexpected death can occur at any time with this condition. No one knows what causes it. I have been a consultant for 22 years and maybe see one every five years. They are very rare in my experience."

Teesside Coroner Michael Sheffield recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

Paul's father, Malcolm Leach, who now lives in Cleethorpes, said he was worried the condition may be genetic and feared for his other sons Andy and Chris.

"My biggest concern now is that I have another two boys," he said.

"I'm going to go and see my own GP for peace of mind and get my two boys checked out."

Mr Leach said his son was a popular young man whose death had affected everyone who knew him.

"It's just tragic. You couldn't meet a better kid. Even at his funeral and the memorial night you could have sold them out four times over."

When Paul's family moved away from the area, he remained with his fiancée Emma Ferrier, working with Lowe and Simpson Ltd, on Preston Industrial Estate, as a staircase designer. The two were planning to marry next June.

At the time of his death Emma said: "Life is so hard without him. I wouldn't wish the way I feel on my worst enemy. It's awful."

The former Boor Academy and Nottingham Forest youth team player represented England at schoolboy level.

Homesickness while with Forest saw him come back to Teesside and he then played in the Teesborough Sunday League for five years, having previously played with Thornaby in the Northern League.

Preston Farm Motors manager Nick Waddington said: "Paul will stay forever in the memory of everyone who came into contact with him."

"He was a real credit to his family, one of the kindest, most good-natured, genuine, honest lads any of us have ever met."

Friends held a tribute night for Paul, who lived at Campion Grove, Marton, to raise money for the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) at the Beachwood and Easterside Club last week. Famous pals including Real Madrid's Jonathan Woodgate, Boro's Stewart Downing and Tottenham's Andy Reid donated items.

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What is Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy?

ARVC is probably the second most common cause of unexpected sudden death in the young. The disorder is characterised by a progressive replacement of normal right ventricular muscle cells by fibrous tissue and fat. The Cardiovascular Group at the University of Padova in Italy has developed particular expertise in the condition.

What causes ARVC?

The precise cause of ARVC is not known. The condition is normally familial and is passed on in the genes from one generation to the next. The child of an affected parent will have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the abnormal gene. The disease affects men and women equally.


Arrhythmia and occasional sudden death. Typical arrhythmia symptoms are of rapid heart beat associated with light-headedness or fainting. Unlike most cardiomyopathies, shortness of breath and chest pains are unusual symptoms and tend only to occur in older patients.

Read more about ARVC