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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Yes: Cry for Matthew. Just don`t forget him.

Heard about the CRY charity? It works hard to spot potentially fatal heart problems in young people. Today, five years after his untimely death, I'm republishing my blog about Matthew-because he, like other young people who have died suddenly--needs to be remembered. Matthew's mum Sue Dewhirst is a leading light in the charity, and I was proud to meet her and moved forever by her story. Please read it, and think about whether someone special to you, should be screened. It could save their life.

Sorting out unwanted clothes for a charity sale was the easy bit.

Here's where it gets tougher: telling the story behind the event.

I'd read about Matthew Dewhirst; a 17 year old Shropshire student; highly accomplished at sport and music, and a loving, only son to Sue and Chris. He was also, I discovered, occasionally, 'class clown' to his mates.

With his talent for rugby and his passion for weightlifting, he might have hit the sporting headlines in years to come.

Instead, his name became known for being an apparently superfit teenager who collapsed and died during a pre-season rugby training course.

Handing over some clothes and sharing a coffee with Sue at the family home in St Martin's, she told me Matthew had shown occasional signs of health problems for years, such as fainting on the pitch and feeling chest pains. He'd been screened, tested and told he was dehydrated, stressed, or suffering from migraine.

Even when he felt unwell the night before he died, Sue found herself repeating the same old medical advice to him: 'You know what the problem is, Matthew,' she`d told him.'You HAVE to drink more'.

The next day: in July 2012, news came which would change their lives forever: Matthew had collapsed and died suddenly--one of 12 young people who do so every week in the UK because of undetected heart problems. Like the cases of presenter Gabby Logan's young brother Daniel, who died during a kickabout with his footballing dad at 15, and the nearly fatal,78 minute collapse of football player Fabrice Muamba, no heart condition had previously been spotted.

It's hard, whether you're a parent or not, even to imagine the pain of losing a child. It's arguably even more devastating to consider that kind of grief when, as Sue and Chris did, you've gone through nine IVF attempts to conceive that precious child in the first place.

'I remember, just before getting pregnant, being at the IVF clinic and the consultant saying he was hopeful this latest attempt would work,' Sue said. 'He told me things had been going well with his patients. He was "on a roll".'

Sure enough, Matthew followed; and was soon mastering, then excelling at most things he attempted: from sport, to maths, and music. I suggested he sounded really special: a golden boy.

'He could be a little sod at times,'Sue laughed, eyes sparkling, regaling stories of Matthew's seemingly endless energy, his need to be active, his stubborn streak. Always, though, happy, loving and loved.

 I'd covered every kind of story as a journalist, but had still arrived here with a precautionary tissue up my sleeve. With a 17 year old of my own at the time, I had absolutely no plans to ask Sue 'how it feels' to lose one. I didn't have to. She told me that days after Matthew died, a doctor insisted that 'no one could have done anything'. They got, she assured me, 'both barrels'.

Sue and Chris run their own architectural design company, but Sue had always found time to be a charity supporter and organiser too. Since Matthew died, she's thrown her skills, positivity and any gaps she has between business trips, into CRY--Cardiac Risk in the Young. She's delivered talks and helped arrange sales, sporting and social events, netting more than £40,000 in the process.

This small charity battles hard to raise awareness of undetected heart problems; and to offer screening sessions around the country, supported by cardiac specialists who give their time to carry out the tests. If problems are spotted, help can be given; lives, potentially, saved--the charity claims that its tests find many more potential problems than conventional screening can.

Each test costs £35, or a donation on the day. To keep them running, CRY needs funding; cake sales, evening events, walks, runs, clothes raised is saving lives.

As our chat ended, a glance round the couple's immaculate home shows every superficial sign of 'business as usual'.Two lively, happy dogs, waggily post-walk; grinning at me through glass doors. Talk of a possible round of golf that afternoon. A heavy bag of delicious garden-grown veg that I'm handed to take home.

Sue's hoping as many people as possible will support CRY fundraisers. But she has another wish too: for people to remember Matthew's story--and to push for heart screening if they're worried about symptoms-- especially if they're playing sport regularly.

Maybe that's something you could help with? Tell people about CRY. Find out about screenings this November, and again in May and August next year. Retweet this blog if you can. And always remember Matthew.




Thank you for keeping the memory of Matt alive.

 and 7 others retweeted you

Important stuff. Young lad on my friend’s corridor in Halls of Residence died in the night with similar complaint. Only 19.

well that made me sit up, listen and take note. With best wishes to Sue x

Met friends of friends at a wedding last week who've gone through the same with their 12yr old last year... Horrendous. X

Absolutely! Here in Belgium they've recently set up a programme for kids to be tested. Great idea. X
  1. thanks for the blog RT, James. Much appreciated.
  2. Not at all. It's something important and more awareness is needed.
  1. you're welcome. One of my little brother's friends died of an unexpected heart condition a couple of years ago during PE.
  2. that's the third such case I've heard today just among Twitter friends since publishing my blog. Shocking.
 and 5 others retweeted you
12 young people are dying every week from undetected heart problems. Please read about Matthew+help spread the word.
  1. thanks again, Karen. Lots of people have read Matthew's story today, thanks to RTs from you & others .
  2. beautifully written piece and an incredibly worthwhile cause being bravely brought into sight and mind.

made me sit up and read it. Thoughts are with Sue and her family x

 and 11 others retweeted you
12 young people are dying every week from undetected heart problems. Please read about Matthew+help spread the word.

  1. My mum had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hocom. Had to have a difib fitted. Gave her an extra 10 more years :-)

    Tweet text
  2. how scary. But great that help was there. Thankyou.
  3. She used to pass out. I'd hope she'd still be there when I came home from school. Hurrah for medical science! :-) x

+Find about more about Cardiac Risk in the Young here:

+And try and get along to support CRY events if you can:

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