Steffani Broughton

My name is Ian Broughton and I live in a small town called Beith in Ayrshire. I’m married to Irene, have three children, Siobhan, Scott and Steffani and a granddaughter called Taylor. CRY came into our lives following the death of our 17 year old daughter Steffani.

She died in her sleep on the 2nd September 2007.

It was the saddest, most traumatic day that we could ever imagine. It changed our world forever. How do you ever start to comprehend how a healthy young person who has everything in life to look forward to goes to bed at night and by the morning they are gone?

Steffani was a kind, caring, loving girl who always went out of her way to help others, always putting them first. She lived life to the full and was always on the go. She was so loyal, vivacious and funny, singing and dancing around the house, entertaining everyone, and telling us the latest gossip. How I miss those chats.

The night she died we had been out celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Steffani was going out that night as well to an 18th birthday party with her best friend, they went everywhere together.

I offered to take them but she said they had a taxi booked. Prior to that night, wherever she wanted to go I took her and went back for her (dad’s taxi). This was the first time ever I hadn’t taken or collected her.

She was always happy for us to be wherever she went, never embarrassed and seemed proud to show her friends how much we cared for her.

We were in bed when she came home having got a lift from some older friends, making sure her friend got home first. This was Steffani all the time, always considering others first. She came home and went to bed. During the night she seemed a bit restless and out of sorts. Irene checked that she was okay, made her comfortable and went back to bed.

In the morning I was getting ready to go out. Strangely there was no noise coming from Steffani’s bedroom. Usually there would be the clicking of the keyboard from her computer, Bebo or MSN chatting about what has been happening or catching up with the latest gossip. Irene went upstairs to check and came back down saying there was something wrong with her. I ran upstairs and found her still and motionless. She looked asleep. As I looked at her lying there I knew that there was something seriously wrong. I didn’t want to believe it but I could tell that she had gone. A part of me died then too.

The post mortem showed no alcohol or drugs which was no surprise to us but what was the silent killer that came to our house and stole our wee girl? After a few weeks we were told that the cause of death was fibrosis of the left ventricle. It was explained to us that Steffani’s heart was like a sponge where all the holes were closing up and the electrical impulses could not get through, they said it was like a switch going off, she would have mercifully felt no pain.

We found CRY while we were trawling the internet looking for answers as Steffani had never been ill. How could this not have been picked up? Why didn’t we see anything was wrong? What could we have done to prevent this? We spoke to Alison, who was so comforting during those tragic first months when we had so many questions. She was the only one we could turn to for answers. CRY held a bereavement support day at which we met other families and friends who had lost someone young as well. The day was very hard but it was also very comforting to be able to share our emotions and feelings with people who were going through the same sad, devastating experience. I believe that day helped everyone immensely.

Until then we had never heard of SADS and were shocked to learn that at least 12 apparently healthy young people were dying every week due to undiagnosed heart problems.

CRY is now part of our family. Irene is training to become a bereavement counsellor while I have volunteered to become an area representative in Scotland. I want to do something to help CRY and raise awareness. CRY do so much to help others through their bereavement support, raising the awareness of Cardiac Risk in the Young, supporting research and screening youngsters to help prevent the loss of another young life.

We have had to find a “new normal” for our family but it will never be the same without our little ray of sunshine. We think of her every day.

Ian Broughton