My husband John and I had our eldest son, John, in Liverpool and we decided to emigrate to South Africa when John was 3 years of age. After 3 and a half years there, we moved back to Bournemouth and had our daughter Hayley.
After 10 wonderful years by the seaside, a big decision in both John’s work life and young John’s football life led us back up north to live where we are now and have been for 18 years – in Ormskirk, Lancashire. In that time, we have had the miracle that is our third child, Michael, as well as another year of living in South Africa in between.
It was after the sudden death of our son (and brother to Hayley) John in 1995, that we became the first family to launch CRY’s campaign for screening.
John began walking from the age of 7 months and from that day to the day he died, football was his life! He was an extremely talented elite athlete. He excelled in everything he did, whether it was football, cricket or running – winning a silver medal for the 800m All England Championships, for Dorset County. John was destined to be a top sportsman.
When he was 14, John was picked to go to Lilleshall, the FA National School of excellence. He proceeded to play for England Schoolboys and was also capped twice for England under 16s.
Being one of the top 16 footballers in the country, John was referred to as England’s jewel in the crown. I think this had something to do with his left foot!!
After leaving Bournemouth and Portsmouth FC, he then signed for Everton FC in April 1995, much to the shock of our Scouse and Liverpool supporting family!
With the world was at his feet and after 2 years at the National School, John went on holiday with some of the other lads from Lilleshall.
The day John arrived home he was so happy; he was due to start work for Everton just days later. He lay on the couch with his sister Hayley to rest and watch TV and it was only moments later when Hayley came running into us to say that John was “making funny noises”.
That was it – as simple as that our lovely John had suddenly died at the age of 16 of cardiomyopathy.
Professor William McKenna contacted us with Alison Cox’s number and that is when we started to campaign for CRY. We then found out that if John had lived just another 10 days,
Everton were screening and his condition would have been identified. We knew then that something had to be done to make people aware of these heart conditions.
CRY changed our lives as it gave us answers to John’s death and gave us the opportunity to try and stop others going through what we had. CRY are doing an outstanding job of raising awareness and promoting screenings; and let’s hope that this success continues.
For all their hard work over the years, we wouldn’t be as far as we are without your continuous time and dedication.
If you would like to contact one of our Representatives or a Bereavement Supporter please call the CRY office at 01737 363222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with someone who may be able to help you.