Devastated family want to prevent other young deaths

Kevin Paterson
Kevin Paterson

The family of a man who died suddenly of a heart condition will use the anniversary of his death to help others.

Kevin Paterson was just 36 when he collapsed and died suddenly just minutes after completing a marathon.

We want something good to come out of Kevin’s death

Patricia Toft

His heartbroken family were left in shock that someone who seemed so fit and healthy could just collapse and die.

However, following an investigation and inquest, it was found Kevin, who hailed from Seaham, had a genetic heart defect, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

Since then his family have fund-raised tirelessly and raised tens of thousands of pounds for the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).

Tomorrow will be the fifth anniversary of Kevin’s death and to mark it his family have organised for 100 young people, aged 14-35, to be screened for heart defects by a team of specialised doctors.

The event will take place on Wednesday, October 25, when the Stadium of Light, home of Kevin’s beloved Sunderland AFC, have generously offered rooms for the screening.

Kevin’s mum, Patricia Toft, 76, who lives in Seaham, said: “We want something good to have come out of Kevin’s death. If we can prevent one family going through what we have then it is worth it.

“Kevin is a huge miss, he was such a big character. He loved life and did have a wonderful life.

“He didn’t believe in doing things by half. I think he would be really pleased with the work we have done.”

Kevin, who lived in Birmingham with his wife Katy, 35, had no idea of the heart defect and collapsed after crossing the finishing line of the Birmingham Great Run in October 2012.

ARVC affects the tissue which holds the heart muscle cells together, causing them to separate and replacing them with fat and scar tissue.

Patricia, who is married to Ron, 84, said other members of the family, including Kevin’s siblings, were tested following his death, but no-one else appears to have the rogue gene.

She said out of the latest round of fundraising, she and Katy organised for 200 young people in Birmingham to be tested recently and decided to use the money left over to test people in the North East and the places filled up really quickly.

Patricia said: “Kevin was a big Sunderland football fan and it is really good of the club to let us hold the event there.

“It is also good for people who have supported us financially to see how the money is being used.”

On Saturday Kevin’s family in Seaham are having a ‘Kevin Day’ where they will get together and have fun the way he used to do at family get-togethers, and his wife Katy, will celebrate his life with a barbecue for friends in Birmingham.