Local mother honoured at The Houses Of Parliament for her commitment to charity work in the North West

Ruth Lowe 1

Ruth Lowe from Preston has worked tirelessly with the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young following the sudden death of her son

Yesterday [TUESDAY 3RD MARCH 2015], Ruth Lowe attended a prestigious event, held at the Terrace Marquee at the House of Commons, to accept a “Department of Health Recognition Award.”

Nominated by Ben Wallace MP (Wyre & Preston North), Ruth – from Woodplumpton, Preston, – travelled to London with her husband, David, to the annual ceremony which celebrates ‘“Excellence in Public Health’”. The event was hosted by Jane Ellison MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health (pictured with Ruth).

Ruth first became involved with Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) following the sudden death of her only son, Andrew (Parr), in April 2004. Andrew – who was aged just 21 – died whilst out with friends and later investigations showed he had suffered two heart attacks, caused by a condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy.

Ruth says; “Prior to losing Andrew 11 years ago, I was unaware of Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome or that youngsters could suffer cardiac arrests. I was amazed to learn that as many as 12 young people a week were dying from undiagnosed heart conditions. As a result I was driven to raise awareness of young sudden cardiac death and the importance of cardiac screening; and to fund CRY screenings in my local area. I wanted something positive to come out of Andrew’s untimely death – it couldn’t be for nothing.”

With the help of friends and other local bereaved families £110,000 has already been raised to hold cardiac screening events in the Preston area. So far, approximately 2,000 14-35 year olds have taken the opportunity to have their hearts checked through CRY’s pioneering – and potentially, lifesaving – screening programme. The next local screening event will be held at Longridge High School on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March. To find out more and book an appointment – go to www.testmyheart.org

Ruth is also a trained CRY Bereavement Supporter and has been instrumental in forming ‘Heartfelt’, a fundraising and support group in Preston where families who have experienced a young sudden cardiac death meet, share their stories and support each other’s fundraising events as well as promoting the work of CRY.

Chief Executive and Founder of CRY, Alison Cox MBE, comments; “We were delighted to learn that Ruth had been recognised with this award. Despite her own grief, Ruth, like so many of our CRY families, has somehow been able to find the strength to support us to try and prevent others from enduring the same catastrophic tragedy. It takes enormous courage to do this and it is very humbling to see what Ruth has achieved in the face of her own terrible loss.”

She adds: “In 2006, we invited Ruth to become CRY’s North West Representative, a role which provided her with a ‘“stage’” on which to raise even greater awareness. Ruth is also one of 10, bereaved mothers who have recently written their story for our latest grief booklet – A Mother’s Grief – which CRY will be releasing on Mother’s Day. We are most grateful to her and the other mums who have agreed to share their experiences of suddenly losing their son or daughter to a previously undiagnosed heart condition; and we hope the stories will offer solace to other women similarly affected.”

Every week in the UK, 12 young people (that is, aged 35 and under) die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. 80% of these young people have no signs or symptoms and so the only way to detect a potentially serious cardiac abnormality is through cardiac screening.

CRY is marking its 20th anniversary this year and, since its launch, has seen its screening programme develop into a nationwide service, testing over 17,000 young people (aged 14-35) annually.

Ruth adds:; “I was totally amazed to find out that I had been nominated for a Department of Health Recognition Award, let alone chosen to receive one! I feel honoured and hope that Andrew would have been proud. I would like to accept and acknowledge the award on behalf of all the other CRY supporters I have befriended over the years.”

In addition to cardiac screening and specialist medical research into the causes and risks of young sudden cardiac death, CRY runs a Bereavement Support Programme. This service offers telephone support to bereaved families through volunteers who have suffered the sudden cardiac death of a child, sibling or partner and who have subsequently received two years of counselling training. CRY also holds national bereavement support events across the UK for those who have suffered a bereavement due to young sudden cardiac death.