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Family of man who died suddenly raise £10,000 in his honour
The family and friends of a man who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart problem have raised more than £10,000 in his memory.
Thirty-year-old Gary Pope from Burgess Hill had been a fit and active man who led a healthy lifestyle.
He was on holiday in Portugal in July 2011 when he died in his sleep.
A fundraising campaign was launched after his death in aid of the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
Earlier this year 10 of Gary’s closest friends took part in the gruelling London to Brighton Challenge, trekking over 100k from Richmond Park down to the Sussex coast.
Additional efforts have included two friends taking part in skydives and one running the London Marathon.
The money was used to pay for two electrocardiagram machines for the CRY Centre for Cardiovascular Conditions and Sports Cardiology at St George’s Hospital in London.
Mr Pope’s parents and friends recently visited the unit to officially unveil the new machines.
Gary’s mother, Lesley, said: “Gary’s death left all of us – family, friends and members of our community – shocked and totally devastated.
“We had never realised that young and seemingly fit people in the prime of their lives could be affected by these cardiac conditions and we knew that we had to do something to make more people aware and to help improve access to screening.
“As a family, we were incredibly moved by the support and fundraising efforts of Gary’s friends and we are so pleased to be working now with CRY and to have this opportunity to do all we can to stop other young people from dying.”
CRY chief executive Alison Cox said: “It takes enormous courage for a family who has been affected by young sudden cardiac death to be able to see beyond their own tragedy and want to raise funds for CRY to help save other lives.
“I find it very humbling that despite their own terrible grief, they somehow manage to find the strength to support us to try and prevent other families from going through the same catastrophic grief as they have endured.”
Twelve people aged 35 and under lose their lives to sudden cardiac death in the UK every week.
Around 80% of the apparently healthy 14-35-year-olds that die from young sudden cardiac death will have shown no previous sign of heart defects.
CRY carries out tests on around 10,000 young people every year in the UK – at St George’s as well as at many other screenings at schools and sports clubs.