Heart screening is a team effort

Lee Colyer

Campaigners have raised nearly £30,000 towards life-saving heart screening for football teams across the county, including Tonbridge Angels.

The Football Fightback scheme was started in conjunction with The Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) charity following the death of 24-year-old Junior Dian, who suffered heart failure while playing for the Angels last summer.

One of the screening project’s key supporters has been Roger Maddams, who lost his own son Jack seven years ago in a similar incident while in the Tonbridge squad.

So far this year, the scheme has already screened 800 young players around the county.

Mr Maddams said: “We feel that this campaign is vitally important, as it can save lives. From the hundreds of screenings that have been done in the past year, there have been a couple of cases where things were picked up and that would not have happened if they hadn’t had tests.

“The tests themselves are very simple and only cost £35 each – but are not something that’s easy to have on the NHS. If you have them done privately through medical insurance, it could cost hundreds.”

He added that staff and fans of Tonbridge Angels had been ‘tremendously supportive’ of the screening initiative, which will continue on a rolling basis into next season.

The last session at the team’s Longmead Stadium was supported by double Olympic gold medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes and Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat.

As well as the screening scheme, Mr Maddams has also contributed to Tonbridge Angels in helping lead a successful bid for £8,000 funding from Sport England towards setting up the club’s new ladies team, which is due to start its first league campaign this autumn.

In terms of fundraising activities, Mr Maddams, said the club had been particularly proactive for Football Fightback, including staging events such as the annual AngelFest, which is now in its fifth year. It takes place between May 27 and 29, and features music, family entertainment and a wide selection of Kentish ale and cider.

To donate towards Football Fightback, visit www.justgiving.com/footballfightback

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