MORE THAN 200 young people were provided with free heart screenings over the weekend (February 18 -19), as Tonbridge Angels Football Club looked to create something positive out of tragedy.
The Football Fightback scheme was started in July 2015 after former Tonbridge Angels player Junior Dian, aged 24, collapsed on the pitch and died during a pre-season friendly at Whyteleafe FC. His heart stopped while he was playing due to undetected cardiac problems.
Seven years before, Angels’ Under-18 player Jack Maddams, 17, died in his sleep from an undetected heart condition.
Since 2015, the Tonbridge community has come together to raise more than £33,000 which has helped to fund 900 screenings.
Costing £35, the examinations took 15 minutes each at Longmead Stadium.
Jack’s father Roger Maddams, who set up the campaign in conjunction with the charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young, said: “When Junior Dian passed away seven years after my son Jack, Tonbridge Angels said ‘never again here’.
“Our initial, we thought ambitious, aim was to fundraise and raise awareness to deliver 600 screenings – this weekend has seen us pass 900 and rising so I’m delighted, honoured and humbled by this – a great tribute to the club, its fans and the memory of Jack and Junior.”
Tonbridge Angels Chairman, Steve Churcher said: “I think it’s fantastic that a non-league club like Tonbridge Angels has, through the generosity and hard work of its supporters, been able to raise in excess of £30,000 to allow 900 young people the opportunity to receive a full heart screen.
“Out of two tragic events, positive actions have taken place through Football Fightback and that was always our aim.”
Mr Maddams urged young people to sign up to future screening events: “That 15 minute test we provide might save your life or allow you to carry on playing sport, performing your art, singing your songs, carrying on whatever you love doing.
Had we known then what we do now and Jack had been tested, I’m convinced he’d still be here, probably banging in goals for Tonbridge.”