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Helping others after Young Sudden Cardiac Death

530. Ruth Lowe

A retired teacher from Preston who lost her son has been instrumental in setting up a fundraising and support group for bereaved families.

Ruth Lowe’s son Andrew sadly  died from  Young Sudden Cardiac Death (YSCD) in 2004. Ruth bravely set about raising awareness of this condition and supporting others who found themselves in the same position. She spent two years training to become a Bereavement Supporter and facilitated the formation of a fund raising and support group in Preston where families meet and share their stories. She has also raised over £118,000 to support the work of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and fund local CRY cardiac screening events for young people.

Ruth had never heard of Young Sudden Cardiac Death but in 2004 Andrew, her only child, died suddenly and unexpectedly at just 21 years old. A short time after this Ruth read an article in a woman’s magazine that told another story of a sudden adult death and highlighted the work of CRY.

Ruth immediately sent for CRY’s literature and began working to spread awareness of this heart condition. CRY supports young people diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and offers bereavement support to families affected. Every week in the UK, 12 young people under the age of 35 die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

Ruth is also one of 10, bereaved mothers who have shared their story in a booklet called ‘A Mother’s Grief’, released by CRY on Mother’s Day 2015 to offer comfort to other women suffering a bereavement.

Ruth reflects that when Andrew died she wanted to go back in time and make everything right – change the ending to the living nightmare. She speaks movingly about how frustrating it was to know that she couldn’t do this, how hard it was to accept what had happened and how the famous Reinhold Niebur quote became important to her, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Through her role as a National Representative for Cardiac Risk in the Young, Ruth has changed lives across the North West. Having so sadly lost her own son, Andrew, Ruth has shown incredible determination in trying to prevent such a tragedy happening to others. She has already raised a fantastic amount of money, allowing thousands of young people to be screened for heart problems, and she continues to provide invaluable emotional support through her community group. I’m delighted to recognise Ruth as the UK’s 530th Point of Light.”

Speaking about becoming a Point of Light, Ruth Lowe said

“After losing my son, Andrew, I was amazed to learn that as many as 12 young people a week were dying from undiagnosed heart conditions. As a result I was driven to raise awareness of Young Sudden Cardiac Death, the importance of cardiac screening and to fund CRY screenings in my local area. I wanted something positive to come out of Andrew’s untimely death – it couldn’t be for nothing.

“I was totally surprised to find out that Prime Minister David Cameron has named me as a Point of Light. I feel honoured and hope that Andrew would have been proud of me. I would like to accept and acknowledge the award on behalf of all the other CRY supporters I have befriended over the years.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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