Now that the clocks have changed and the nights are drawing in, CCS Foot Care…
A bereaved mum from Frome has stepped back from years of incredible fundraising efforts on behalf of the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) – rounding off over two decades of dedicated support with a final heart screening session for young, local people in memory of her son.
Julian Wort was just 28 when he died suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition in March 2000. The screening took place on Saturday 18th March at Julian’s former school, Oakfield Academy, and marked the 5th session of free cardiac testing to have taken place in Frome, funded by money raised in his memory.
Along with friends, families and members of the wider community, the enduring efforts of Shirley Wort, alongside her husband, David have contributed to more than £50,000 being raised. In addition to supporting CRY’s world leading “testmyheart” programme, the Julian Wort Memorial Fund has also been used to buy two electrocardiogram (ECG) machines and defibrillators for the local hospital, as well as donations to CRY’s core funds to ensure the vital provision of services such as specialist bereavement support, research and awareness.
Including this final screening, almost 500 young people have now had their hearts screened thanks to Shirley’s commitment to CRY, with several young people having been identified with a potentially dangerous, underlying problem and referred for further investigation.
Shirley says; “Together with my husband David and daughter, Debbie, we have devoted so much of our time and energies into raising funds and awareness for CRY. The charity has always been there for us when we needed them and it’s been such a privilege to be able to do our bit to support CRY too.
“However, now, as we reach several milestones in our fundraising – and have marked what would have been Julian’s 50th birthday – we feel it is time to take a step back from hosting screenings in memory of our beloved son.
“We’ve been blessed with two wonderful grandsons and now, a great-grandson! And whilst we’ve decided to stop our fundraising efforts for specific screening days, I’ll never stop supporting CRY and doing what I can to raise awareness and make sure young people in our community know all about the charity and the work it does to stop these tragic deaths.”
Shirley was due to have held her final day of screening in memory of Julian back in March 2020 – but unfortunately the session was abruptly cancelled due to the announcement of the UK’s first national lockdown at the start of the pandemic. CRY’s screening programme was halted for around 16 months and when it restarted in June 2021, faced a huge waiting list of around 50,000 young people who had signed up to be tested.
Shirley adds; “None of us could have foreseen the impact of Covid on CRY’s screening programme and we’ve certainly waited a while to be able to rebook our 5th and final screening day for Julian.
“But, in that time, we were able to nudge our fundraising total to over £50,000, which means so much to us. I will never forget the generosity of one of Julian’s best friends (in fact Julian was to have been best man at his wedding) who arrived on our doorstep during lockdown with a cheque for £2,500 which enabled us to hit the significant total!
“Now seems the fitting moment to publicly thank Kevin Rumming and his wife Laura for that wonderful act of kindness. And, as I look back over all the years of incredible support from the people and business of Frome, I would like to take the opportunity to thank our local Lions Club, Oakfield Academy, the Frome Times, all the friends and family who encouraged us on this journey back in 2000 – and even our local takeaway, Kingfisher, who have always had a collection box for CRY on its counter! There are too many people to list and say thank you to individually – but we couldn’t have done in without any of them.”
“We are so pleased to be bringing CRY’s screening team back to Frome again, although as ever the day will be ‘bittersweet’, coinciding with the anniversary of Julian’s death. And, this year, the event will also fall on the same weekend as Mothering Sunday which is always such a difficult day for me and all other mums who have been affected by the loss of a child.”
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 wants every young person to have the opportunity to have their heart tested. As such, CRY is testing around 30,000 young people each year, aged between 14 and 35 and well over 250,000 since the screening programme was launched in 1995.
Dr Steven Cox, CRY’s Chief Executive, adds, “Firstly, I want to extend my personal and sincere thanks to Shirley for her years of devoted and tireless fundraising for CRY. Quite simply, we just wouldn’t be able to provide our vital services and pioneering screening programme without the support of people like Shirley and David. We will miss them being a part of our screening programme but we know they will always be true supporters of CRY. Their dedication to CRY over the past 20 years will be so inspiring to other families – particularly across the South West.
“Our screening programme has evolved so much since the year 2000 when Shirley first became involved with CRY following the sudden death of her beloved son, Julian.
“Now, thanks to fundraising, research and better understanding of screening techniques, we have been able to refine and streamline our cardiac testing programme to an internationally acclaimed standard, with our screening vans travelling to venues around the UK, almost every day of the week. Thanks to people such as Shirley and their unwavering support we continue to move closer to the day when every young person will have their heart routinely screened.”
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, now based in Leatherhead, Surrey.
The vast majority of CRY’s screenings are funded by families 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, affordable, effective and non-invasive way of diagnosing most cardiac abnormalities called an electrocardiogram (ECG). If a young person is found to have an abnormality, CRY will usually conduct an Echocardiogram (ultrasound) at no additional charge on the same day.