Mum of Derbyshire teen who died suddenly visits Parliament to raise awareness

Elaine Ward and Lee Rowley.
Elaine Ward and Lee Rowley.

The mother of a Dronfield teenager who died unexpectedly has attended Parliament to help raise awareness about sudden cardiac death among young people.

Neil Ward tragically collapsed while at a Scout meeting in December, 1992. He was just 17-years-old.

Neil – who was a keen hiker and helped with conservation work in the Peak District in his spare time – was seemingly fit and healthy and showed no symptoms of a heart condition.

He attended the sixth form at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School and was due to go to university the following year.

After Neil died, his parents Elaine and Ian became involved with the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) charity and have worked tirelessly to campaign for greater awareness and to raise funds for screening young, local people.

During an event in the House of Commons, North East Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley met with Mrs Ward and representatives from CRY.

Conservative politician Mr Rowley said: “It was great to be able to attend this event to highlight the work that CRY are doing in our communities.

“Mr and Mrs Ward work tirelessly on raising the profile of this tragic issue in North East Derbyshire and I was delighted to be able to join them at one of their recent screenings in Gosforth Fields in the summer.

“I support CRY’s campaign to secure a national strategy to help prevent sudden cardiac death in young people. Their efforts have already resulted in the testing of 27,000 young people annually for cardiac problems.”

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'Cross-party support for new national strategy is so crucial'

Every week in the UK, at least 12 people aged 35 and under die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

In the vast majority of cases, the first sign of a problem will be the last sign and therefore the only way to detect a potentially fatal cardiac abnormality is through proactive cardiac screening by specially trained cardiologists.

CRY has recently released the results of a new, nationwide survey which show for the first time that 82 per cent of UK adults think the Government should be doing more to help prevent sudden cardiac death in young people.

Similarly, 83 per cent of adults questioned think all people aged between 14 and 35 should be offered cardiac testing via a free, national screening programme.

Dr Steven Cox, chief executive of CRY, said: “These new stats, reflecting public opinion, reinforce our campaign to make the Government sit up and acknowledge the massive impact young sudden cardiac deaths have on our society.

“It remains of huge concern to us that current UK policies are still contradictory, with guidelines based on incorrect assessments of the incidence, methods of diagnosis and positive management of cardiac conditions in young people.

“That’s why cross-party support for a new national strategy is so crucial, ensuring that the guidelines and policies to prevent young sudden cardiac death are consistent. And, the first stage of such a strategy must be to correctly acknowledge the incidence of these deaths.”