Sue Dewhirst – Cornwall

suedewhirst1I found out about CRY on 20 July 2012, the day after my only son, Matthew, died aged 17½.

It was the county coroner who suggested my husband Chris and I Google for ‘Cardiac Risk in the Young’ to find out why our extremely fit boy should suddenly go.

I think in the back of our minds we’d kind of known for 8 years that all was not right.
Year after year he had been passing out on the rugby pitch, only to be told every time by the emergency doctors that it was either stress, migraine or dehydration; and that ‘you only had to look at him to know that there was nothing wrong with his heart’. What are you supposed to do?

Matthew was our only son, conceived on the 9th IVF attempt, so he was a very wanted child. He was active from day one of his life and at 5 years old was playing 3 by 3’s at the Crewe Alexandra Football Academy.

At 11, and after a change of schools, he decided that rugby was his game. He played for his school, Ellesmere College, as well as his club Whitchurch RFU; and also for the County and North Midlands teams. He trained 5 times a week and loved everything that he did.

The couple of months leading up to Matthew’s death were possibly the most enjoyable of his whole life. He’d been to Wembley to see his beloved Crewe Alex win in the play offs; he’d sung at Westminster Abbey as part of Ellesmere College’s Chapel Choir; he’d passed his driving test; he’d completed his Duke of Edinburgh Gold activity – rowing from Hereford to Shrewsbury; and he’d had his ‘eureka moment’ when he suddenly realised what he wanted out of life, after being asked to mentor and buddy a group of Italian students as a volunteer for his Duke of Edinburgh award.

Life was good.

That summer Matthew had asked if he could join a pre-season rugby training group based at Ellesmere College. This was undertaking activities that he’d done many times before, but, for whatever reason, 4 days into the course he collapsed and died. He’d come home the evening before complaining of chest pains and I can still hear myself saying, “well, you know what you have to do, drink more”. What a stupid thing to say; but for years, that’s what we’d been told.

I don’t blame anyone for what happened, even though it was suggested that I complain about the advice we’d been given. What’s the point, he wasn’t coming back. So I did what I usually do, go into organising mode. Poor Ben Robinson at CRY possibly didn’t know what hit him – I was now a ‘Mother on a Mission’ and I was determined that Matthew’s death wouldn’t be forgotten and that others would know why he died so that it would raise awareness and stop other families being ripped apart as ours had been.

I’m also very lucky to have a strong marriage with Chris. We’d been through a lot for us to have Matthew and we were going to have to go through a lot more now. Having our own Architectural Design business has afforded me the time to give to promoting CRY in schools and sports clubs. This is something I still find emotionally draining, but it is for such a great cause.

We both work now with students at the local technical college on an ‘enrichment’ programme which helps the students to offer some of their time to promote charities; and this has had benefits in allowing us contact with teenagers again, something we both miss.

Life will never be the same again, but CRY is helping us achieve something in Matt’s name.

Sue Dewhirst

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 [email protected] and we will put you in touch with someone who may be able to help you.