Teen Emma who died 13 years ago is remembered by hockey coach running in her honour

By Davina Hyde

A hockey coach is running 13 half marathons in 13 days to mark the 13th anniversary of the death of a teenager who died in her sleep from a sudden cardiac arrest.

Mark Atherton, 45, of Godstone Road, Croydon, is running the half marathons in South London over the next 13 days, to raise much-needed funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

Emma Broad, who died in her sleep aged 16, was one of Mr Atherton’s international hockey stars, whom he coached at his previous club, Surbiton Hockey Club, 13 years ago.

The director of hockey at London Wayfarers Hockey Club wants to raise awareness about the potentially life-threatening heart conditions that apparently fit and healthy young people may have.

Mr Atherton said: “Emma was a special talent and a wonderful girl, whose infectious smile had the ability to transform any day into a good one.

“I am truly humbled by the support and generosity people have shown, which I know also means a great deal to Emma’s family, and has raised much-needed funds for the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young, who do amazing work in trying to prevent young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research, and who support affected families.

Mark Atherton, director of hockey at London Wayfarers Hockey Club, taking up the 13 in 13 challenge (Picture: London Wayfarers)

“It was a privilege to take this challenge on in Emma’s name and fantastic to have so many people come together offering encouragement, making donations and remembering Emma.”

The South London hockey community has pulled together to support his runs through South London, which includes him running through some of London Wayfarers’ pitches in Clapham, Streatham, Battersea, Wimbledon and Dulwich.

Dr Steven Cox, chief executive of the charity, CRY said: “Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young (aged 35 and under) people in the UK die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Every one of these deaths sends shockwaves through families, schools, sports clubs and entire communities – these young people are at the prime of their lives, often in peak fitness, just as Emma was.

“It’s important to note that in 80 per cent of these cases, there will have been no signs or symptoms of a heart defect until it is too late, which is why CRY believes screening is so vitally important  – particularly for those involved in regular, physical activity.  As such, CRY now tests around 27,000 young people each year, aged between 14 and 35.”

To find out more about Mark Atherton’s challenge, and to donate to his JustGiving fundraising page, please visit: 13 in 13 JustGiving fundraising page

Pictured top: Emma Broad (Picture: Supplied by Broad Family)

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