Luke Ashton

Christmas day 2006 began much as any other day, with the familiar routine of dog walking and a hurried, rather cursory tidying up.

I recall stuffing the Telegraph colour supplement under the chaise, thinking that the cover feature on the effects of melting ice caps on Polar bears had to be read, but was too sad for Christmas. I was wholly ignorant of the tragedy that was about to envelop my family before the day was through. My second son Luke slumbered on as I left for work as a District nurse in Ramsey, Isle of Man. Luke opened his presents in his room, and then spent the afternoon walking with his grandfather and the dogs.

When I returned in the evening, the family enjoyed the festive dinner, during which my older son and his girlfriend arrived. Luke decided to change his plans and spend the night at his friends as the 3 of them had plans to head away on a plane the next day.

I kissed him goodbye, and he waved happily from the back of the car, excited to be off travelling the next day.

The nightmare that followed will haunt all of us who were involved on that fateful night. Luke and his friend Luis had a turkey sandwich and a can of beer with Luis parents before settling down to watch TV. Several minutes later Luke slumped unconscious to the floor, and despite the best efforts of Luke's friends parents (both medical) and the paramedics, Luke remained asystolic.

Luke's brother Bruce who was staying locally, arrived during these events, and held his brothers hand. Rapid communication was taking place by mobile phone and unusually it was Luke's father in England (a Physician) who took the agonising decision to call off the resuscitation attempt at the scene, as Luke had by now been asystolic for almost half an hour.

Luke's heart was sent for examination to Dr Mary Sheppard, who considers that the problem of sudden cardiac death is hugely underestimated, although only some of these predisposing conditions are currently detectable, and therefore potentially preventable. Luke's heart was on examination entirely normal.

Over this tremendously difficult year the family has received kindness, help, and support in many different ways large and small from so many people, and we are grateful to all who have made contributions in Luke's memory much of which has, and is, being donated to CRY.

Luke and I had a memorable conversation as we floated down the Nile on what was undoubtedly the highlight of our many trips and travels. It was during this journey that Luke told me of his hopes to study International Politics and modern History at university. He said that he was not seeking material wealth, but had hopes of an "interesting life". The inscription on Luke's memorial bench reads:

" There is only one true form of wealth that of human companionship. Nothing in truth can ever replace a lost companion".

Kerry Ashton