Silent killer that cut short daughter's life

The parents of a former Dover college student who collapsed and died suddenly are warning others to be aware of a rare killer that tragically cut short the life of their daughter.

Josephine Harris, 18, collapsed during an evening out with friends at ikon nightclub in Maidstone on Saturday, April 8.

Police and ambulance crews were called, but attempts to revive her at the club and later at Maidstone Hospital failed. she died in hospital a short time later.

Although an inquest is yet to be held, her parents, Siobhan Kingston and Jonathan Harris were told she could have died from a fatal condition causing sudden heart failure.

Josephine was one of just six girls studying mechanics at South Kent College in Dover. She was in her first year of a motor vehicle course.

Tutors intend to plant a tree in her memory in the grounds of the college, where her boyfriend Ryan Fisher also studies, next month.

In a cruel twist, just months before her death Josephine, who lived in Shakespeare Terrace, Folkestone, had discussed her own funeral arrangements with 17-year-old brother Leo.

and her parents are determined to respect her wishes, which includes a horse drawn carriage and a pink coffin – her favourite colour – and guests dressed in pink and blue.

Describing Josephine as her ‘best friend’ Miss Kingston said: “For Leo the loss is phenomenally sad. She used to look after him and would have no messing about.

“She was beautiful and touched everybody. She had something special. She couldn’t understand people who argued, she thought it was a waste of time.

“She had so much energy and a huge presence. When she came into a room she would light it up.

“Above all she loved children and was fantastic with them. She really wanted to be a mum.”

Miss Kingston said they were oblivious to the heart condition.

Mr Harris said: “There are so many things that can go wrong with your heart that we don’t have a clue about.”

Three weeks after the tragic death, Josephine’s parents are determined to warn others about Sudden Death Syndrome, which claims the lives of four people under the age of 35 each week.

They have already made the difficult decision to donate Josephine’s heart for research to help understand the rare condition.

Her family is supporting the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), which aims to raise awareness that young people with undiagnosed cardiac abnormalities can die suddenly.

They have also pledged to fund machines capable of detecting problems through an electrocardiogram (ECG) test, which cost £5,000 each.

To make a donation, contact Chittendens Funeral care on 01303 851456.

The family will respond to all messages.