Last week, Trinity announced the news that Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) had added an impressive new Echocardiogram to its portfolio of screening equipment used on a daily basis by its team of experts – all thanks to funds raised in memory Harry Faulkner.
Harry Faulkner from St Albans collapsed and died (whilst playing his beloved game, squash, in a league match at Berkhamsted Squash Club) in February 2013 from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He was aged just 18.
Harry (who was a pupil at Berkhamsted School and British under-19 squash player) was due to begin a degree course at the University of Birmingham. Since Harry’s tragic death, friends and family have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness and funds in his memory, totalling over £182,000 to date.
This has led to the screening of over 1200 young people at Berkhamsted School and ‘Berkhamsted Raiders CFC” (with 35 individuals identified as needing further cardiac investigations, so far). Harry’s fund has also paid for the new, mobile Echo machine which will be used by CRY’s expert screening teams at events across the UK.
Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young (aged 35 and under) people in the UK die suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect. In 80% of these cases, there will have been no signs or symptoms until it is too late, which is why CRY believes screening is so vitally important (particularly for those involved in regular, physical activity). CRY now tests around 30,000 young people each year, aged between 14 and 35 and well over 200,000 since the screening programme was launched in 1995.
Speaking on BBC Three Counties, Harry’s mum, Donna said, “I’m like a dog with a bone and I won’t give up in getting the message out there about ‘CRY Screening’. So many young people just think they’re invincible and that it won’t happen to them. But my Harry was so fit. He played squash – a very powerful game – and had no symptoms at all. We had no idea and that is what’s so scary…”
“Just go onto the website and register now. It’s free – the Government doesn’t pay for it but it’s funded by families like us, supported by our friends. If our screenings can save just one life… well, it won’t bring back Harry but it will help us as a family and when we see CRY’s mobile screening unit testing young people in Harry’s memory [in our local area] it makes us so proud.”
Most of CRY’s screenings take place in community settings (schools, colleges, church halls and sports clubs) across the UK. Two Saturdays in every month, around 100 young people (aged 14-35) are also screened for free at CRY’s National Screening Centre at St George’s, London. Many of the young people who are identified through community screenings with potential abnormalities will be referred back to CRY’s Consultant Cardiologist, Professor Sanjay Sharma and his expert team for further investigations, involving the use of specialist diagnostic equipment, including Echo imaging.
In November 2017, one of Harry’s great friends from “sixth form” – the reality TV star, presenter and model, Montana Brown – became an Ambassador for CRY, initially helping to launch the charity’s hugely successful CRY4Friends campaign.
She said; “I am so proud to have been invited to take on the role of Ambassador for CRY in memory of my wonderful friend, Harry. Harry’s sudden death when we were just teenagers, sent shockwaves through our entire community – school, friends, family – and had a massive effect on us all.
“It’s therefore so important for me to do anything I can do to help raise awareness of CRY and everything it does to save young lives through research and its incredible screening programme. I was screened not long after Harry died, and I would urge everyone aged between 14 and 35 to book in now. It could save your life.”
The vast majority of CRY’s screenings are funded by families, such as the Faulkner’s, who have been affected by a young sudden cardiac death, so there is no charge to the individual when CRY’s mobile cardiac screening service comes to a local venue. CRY uses a very simple, effective and non-invasive way of diagnosing most cardiac abnormalities. It is a quick, painless and affordable procedure called an electrocardiogram (ECG). If a young person is found to have an abnormality, CRY will also conduct an Echocardiogram (ultrasound) on the same day for no additional charge.