Walking through fire to get more heart screenings

Fire walking challenge will take place at Lord Nelson, in Chorley
Fire walking challenge will take place at Lord Nelson, in Chorley
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A group of volunteers will walk over hot coals to save someone’s life - literally.

The 20 intrepid fund-raisers will take part in a fire walk challenge at Lord Nelson Pub, in Chorley, to raise money for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).

Event organiser Julie Smith with her son Chris

Event organiser Julie Smith with her son Chris

The event was organised by Julie Smith, of Penwortham, who is campaigning for more vital heart screenings in the area, which can detect unknown defects.

The programme helped save her son Chris’s life, as it picked up a problem and he underwent life saving treatment.

She said: “Chris’s problem was picked up after screening when he was 16. We went to London to see a specialist cardiologist and had further tests.
“He had Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome and he had a catheter ablation. This cleared the problem and we have never looked back since.
“This is why it is so important to have these screenings.
“People get the wrong idea thinking heart problems are linked to exercise. But that is not true. It can affect anybody. People can have an underlying condition and it can affect them when resting. People have died in their sleep. The more people we can screen, the more people we can save.”

One brave challenger is Ann Coles, whose son Andrew died in 1997, aged 21, following a sudden cardiac failure.

Ann Coles, with a photo of her son, Andrew, who died following a sudden cardiac failure

Ann Coles, with a photo of her son, Andrew, who died following a sudden cardiac failure

The 62-year-old, of Leyland, said: “This was a blind challenge, so when I volunteered, I didn’t know what I had signed up for.
“When I found out, I asked myself ‘what I had let myself in for?’ We were told we could back out, but I could not let the people who sponsored me down.
“We will be given training beforehand. It is all about mind over matter. I will be very apprehensive, as I will be walking across a 20ft path of hot coals, but I am looking forward to it.
“I have been fund-raising and supporting CRY ever since my son Andrew died. I am part of a fund-raising group in Preston called Heartfelt and we all work together to raise funds and support each other.
“The government national screening committee last year recommended against screening all youngsters to prevent sudden cardiac death saying that in their estimation this devastating occurrence is rare.
“But at least 12 deaths a week is not rare. Since my son died in 1997, more than 11,856 young people have died from young sudden cardiac death. That is unacceptable and preventable in this day and age.
“Until the government gets the correct facts, nothing will be done about national screening, so we are doing everything in our power to raise funds for as many local programmes as we can. It is important to get more screening programmes in the area.”

The challenge will be held at Lord Nelson Pub, in Chorley, on Saturday September 10, from 6pm. Spectators are invited to watch the fire walk for free, with donations being collected.

Julie is still looking for businesses to sponsor the event. To get in touch, call 07852278228.

To request free postcards to send to your MP to highlight the need for more screenings, visit http://www.c-r-y.org.uk.

To donate visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/displaySomeoneSpecialPage.action?pageUrl=AndrewParrMemorialFund

The memorial fund was set up by Ruth Lowe, in memory of her son, Andrew Parr, who died in 2004.