This weekend (Sunday 4 July) will mark a milestone in the 6 months since the tragic and sudden death of a local Longridge man, Andy Key, as his friends, family and the wider local community gather to celebrate his life and pledge to raise funds and awareness in his memory.
Andy (who worked as an engineer at British Aerospace) was just 31 when he collapsed and died at home on January 15, from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Despite CPR and the very best efforts of paramedics, Andy could not be saved – and his sudden death sent shockwaves across the local community.
However, due to the restrictions of national lockdown, many of Andy’s devoted friends and family members were unable to attend his funeral and say goodbye to him, together – which they found incredibly hard and very upsetting. As such, it is hoped the event this weekend will provide a positive opportunity to celebrate Andy’s life, to share memories and tributes, offer support to one another and ensure his memory is kept alive.
“Since Andy’s death, we have all come together as a community to rally around his family and promise that we do all we can to create a fitting legacy for our mate, Andy – who we all miss so much.”
Organiser and childhood friend, Martin Cookson, says; “Since Andy’s death, we have all come together as a community to rally around his family and promise that we do all we can to create a fitting legacy for our mate, Andy – who we all miss so much. We’ve already held a number of small events and sporting challenges, which have raised thousands of pounds towards specialist cardiac screening for young people, which we hope to bring to our local area, as soon as we can get it booked in with the team at CRY.
“But this football match – and day of celebration – is really going to be special, and a long overdue chance for lots of us to come together for the first time (in a Covid secure way) to pay tribute to Andy. Football was his passion – something I really shared with him, we were always travelling together to watch our team, Preston North End, as well as England games, when we could – and there’s no better way we could think of to pay tribute to him, whilst raising funds and creating awareness so others don’t ever have to go through the shock and pain that we’re all feeling now.”
Andy had been due to marry his fiancé Danielle Riley in August. The pair were ‘teenage sweethearts’ and had a 2-year-old son, Arlo. Devastated, Danielle contacted CRY shortly after Andy’s death, posting a poignant and beautifully written tribute on the charity’s website which had an instant impact on other families who had been through a similar experience, as well as helping to raise huge awareness amongst others who might not have been aware of young sudden cardiac death.
Speaking at the time, Danielle said; “We will now put all of our energy into fundraising events for CRY and will continue to spread awareness in the hope that other lives can be saved. I feel I have already found an inner strength I didn’t know was there and I hope Andy will be proud of us both.”
Chief Executive of CRY, Dr. Steven Cox, adds: “It takes great courage for friends or family members who have 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 another family having to suffer in the way they have. On behalf of everyone at CRY, I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Martin, Danielle and all of Andy’s friends and family for everything they’re doing to help raise awareness and support for CRY, in what has been a really difficult times for charities. We do really value their determination and commitment – and we’re always here for them, and for anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of a sudden cardiac death in a young person.”
The Football Day at Chipping Playing Fields on Sunday (July 4) kicks off at 11am with a Chipping Ladies football match, followed by a fundraising raffle and speeches at 12 noon. At 1pm, 30 of Andy’s friends will take part in a second match; Andy’s Lilywhites vs Andy’s Reds, named after his top teams. There will also be a barbeque and BBQ (with plenty of signage, social distancing and sanitisation stations). Other fundraisers planned later this year include a cricket match on August 27.