On Sunday 25 June, almost 1000 people walked together along the banks of the River Thames in Central London in memory of a family member or friend who was one of the “12 a week” apparently fit and healthy young (that is, aged 35 & under) people who die in the UK from young sudden cardiac death (YSCD).
The CRY Heart of London Bridges Walk is now in its 17th year, bringing bereaved families together from all corners of the UK – and beyond. Some people walk in couples, some alone and others with the support of close family and friends. One such group taking part in this year’s event was ‘Team Matt’, which saw more than 40 people gathering to walk in memory of Matt Hadfield.
‘Team Matt’ – which has been congregating at CRY’s annual event since Matt tragically died in February 2010 – this year included buggies, four-legged friends, toddlers and one of the ‘Bridges Walk’ youngest ever participants, a baby aged just 6-weeks old!
At the heart of ‘Team Matt’ was Diana Hunt, Matt’s mum, with her husband Andy – as they have been every year. She was overwhelmed to be joined by “our biggest group ever” and to be able to spend such a special day sharing memories of Matt, celebrating his life, and helping to raise funds for CRY.
Diana says; “Matt’s friends have been an enormous support since his death in Feb 2010. He would have turned 30 the following month, and without fail (with the exception of the ‘lockdown years’) every March, Matt’s family and friends from school and university always met up for a drink in a riverside pub in Central London to toast his birthday. This year however, ‘Team Matt’ – championed by Nick, his good friend from Uni – decided to move our annual ‘get-together’ to the Bridges Walk. With the arrival of new partners and children – including our own two beautiful grandchildren – this poignant and inclusive event, with the Family Picnic at the end, felt like the perfect venue for ‘Team Matt’s’ 2023 gathering! Our team has varied a lot in size and shape over the years, but there is a hard core who are always there, and while I cannot thank them enough for all their years of being there, it was also lovely to see the new ‘Team Matt’ walkers this year.”
Since Matt’s death 13 years ago, over £55,000 has been raised through his memorial fund with CRY, due to the incredible, intrepid, and inspiring efforts of ‘Team Matt’. Just this year, another of Matt’s great schoolfriends, Will, ran the London Marathon in memory of Matt, to add to CRY’s funds. And thanks mainly to the efforts of Matt’s brother Marc, sponsorship (plus corporate match-funding) for this year’s Bridges Walk has topped £6,000!
Diana, who trained as a specialist Bereavement Counsellor with CRY in 2016, adds; “The Bridges Walk has always been a really important event for me – I often feel quite anxious the day before and usually a little flat the day after, but there’s no doubt that coming together as a group on the day, and seeing so many other ‘CRY families’, always raises my spirits.”
“It’s a wonderful day and it was particularly special this year that ‘Team Matt’ was the biggest ever. Due to the hot weather, we all took it at our own pace – in fact, I was pushed in a wheelchair for much of the route (due to a recent operation on my foot),which was a first – but I was determined not to miss out! We are so grateful to Matt’s friends and family – especially those with small children – for the lengths they went to in order to walk with us on Sunday 25th; people came from far and wide to be a part of ‘Team Matt’ for the day, with one his friends travelling from Thailand!
What greater tribute can there be for Matt. We all hope to be back again next year, together, to walk The Bridges Walk!”