Family’s heart screening plea in memory of tragic Sunderland man

Cardiac Risk in the Young testing event at the Stadium of Light.
Front Patricia Toft with and grandson William Bartley, 9 with family
Cardiac Risk in the Young testing event at the Stadium of Light. Front Patricia Toft with and grandson William Bartley, 9 with family

The family of a man who died suddenly of a heart condition have celebrated his life by helping others.

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

Cardiac Risk in the Young testing event at the Stadium of Light.

Cardiac Risk in the Young testing event at the Stadium of Light.

Since his death his family has raised more than £30,000 for the charity, CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).

Last week Kevin’s family used the latest money raised to hold a heart screening event at the Stadium of Light, where 100 young people were tested for any underlying heart problems.

His mum, Patricia Toft, 76, who lives in Seaham, said the day, which coincided with the fifth anniversary of his death, was a huge success.

She said: “The atmosphere was great on the day, it was really buzzing.

The atmosphere was great on the day, it was really buzzing

Patricia Toft

“It was very emotional for us. We were really proud thinking that because of Kevin all this is happening. That through screening lives might be saved.

“One woman, who was there with a teenage boy, came up to me and thanked me, she said thankfully the young lad was fine and it had really put her mind at rest.”

Patricia said her son had been a big supporter of Sunderland AFC, so it was lovely to be able to hold the event at the ground.

She said: “Everyone at the Stadium of Light was fantastic on the day, I couldn’t fault them. I am really grateful to them for letting us use the facilities for free.”

Kevin Paterson

Kevin Paterson

The grandmother said they used the day as a way of celebrating Kevin’s life and went out for a family meal.

That someone who appeared so fit and healthy could collapse and die came as a complete shock to Kevin’s family, but an investigation found Kevin, who hailed from Seaham, had a genetic heart defect, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

Since then his family have fund-raised tirelessly for CRY in the hope of helping to save the lives of others.

Patricia 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.”

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.