I lost Barry without any warning…I don't want others to go through that

Laurie MacNamara should be preparing for the happiest day of her life. Instead she only has memories and photographs to remember the 'strapping' six footer she was to marry.

For in a cruel twist of fate Barry Johnston dropped dead when he was playing football. He was just 27.

the cause, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, was something Laurie had barely head of, let alone thought it would take the man she loved, without even a fight.

His death six months ago left the 30-year-old devastated.

But, as she slowly begins to rebuild her life, she is determined to play her part by trying to stop if happening to any other young couple.

Now Laurie is campaigning and fundraising for a national screening programme.

She has already raised more than £2,000 and last weekend she and four friends – Kathy Boyling, Emma Towle, Yvonne Lennon and Alan Rogerson – ran the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow which she hopes will raise hundreds of pounds more.

The date of Mar4ch 6, 2007, will be etched in Laurie's memory forever.

Barry was enjoying his weekly five-a-side football match with friends when he collapsed on the pitch midway through the game.

He was rushed to Crosshouse hospital in Kilmarnock but never regained consciousness.

His heart had stopped on the pitch and doctors were unable to restart it.

Instead of making preparations for their wedding, Laurie had to have her husband-to-be 's funeral in the church the couple had planned to marry in next year.

Speaking for the first time and fighting back tears, Laurie, who is from Stewarton in East Ayrshire, recalled her last words to her fiancé.

She said: "I had just got in from work and Barry was getting ready to go out and play football.

"We had a private joke and I shouted after him to remember to put the lights out.

"He told me he was going to pop in and see his gran and his mum beforehand. I found out later he did go and see them and I'm glad of that.

"I was just settling down to watch television when I got a call from his best friend's girlfriend telling me Barry had collapse and had been taken to hospital.

"A nurse came out and told me his heart had stopped and they couldn't restart it.

"I can't even remember what else she said, it's all a blur.

"I can't even describe how I felt. Devastated doesn't even come close."

Her fiancé's death marked a double tragedy for Laurie – last year her mother Valerie died from Chrons Disease at just 45.

Laurie says she wouldn't have been able to get through the pain of losing her mother without her fiancé's support.

The couple met in a bar in Kilwinning seven years ago and Laurie says she knew the relationship was going to be special.

Laurie, an office worker, said: "I was eyeing him up at the bar but it took him a while to notice.

"He was 6ft with really broad shoulders and had such kind eyes. A nicer guy you would never meet.

"We'd been together bout two years when we decided to move in together.

"Barry was desperate to have children from quite early on but I wanted to be married first."

Barry got down on one knee and proposed on February 17 this year.

The couple then set a date for their wedding of June 7 next year.

Post mortem examinations showed no abnormalities in Barry's heart and his death was attributed to cardiomyopathy or Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

At least eight young people die of the condition each week, the majority of them unexplained.

She said: "Barry had always been healthy.

"He was Rangers daft and loved playing football. There were never any problems.

"He had suffered from palpitations but it was never investigated. Now I wonder if something could have been done."

Since her fiancé's death Laurie has devoted much of her time to raising funds for national charity Cardiac Risk in the young and is campaigning for a national screening programme.

She said having this focus has helped her cope with her loss.

She said: "People say that time is a great healer but you just learn to function on auto-pilot.

"It's just the little things. A song we liked, the first night I had to go out with my work colleagues without him.

"My 30th birthday in August was particularly hard."

Laurie added: "It's because it happened so suddenly, you wonder if he knew how you felt.

"If Barry had been screened maybe something could have been picked up.

"If it saves even just one person then it's worth it."

For more information on sudden adult death syndrome go to http://www.c-r-y.org.uk

To make a donation to the charity on Laurie's web page go to http://www.justgiving.com/barryjohnston

Condition strikes eight young people a week

Around eight young people die each week in the UK from cardiomyopathy, known as Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS).

It is a disorder of the electrical system of the heart and can strike without warning.

Symptoms include breathlessness, palpitations, light-headedness and swollen ankles.

Sudden loss of consciousness usually occurs during physical exertion or emotional excitement like anger or fear.

Sports present Gabby Logan, wife of ex-Scotland rugby star Kenny, lost brother Daniel Yorath, 15. to the condition in 1992.

National charity Cardiac Risk in the Young works to raise awareness of Sudden Death Syndrome and is campaigning for a screening programme for young people.

It provides help and support to families and carries out mobile cardiac screening and ECG testing programmes within local communities.