Steve and Sheralyn Hammond have turned the tragedy of losing their 15-year-old son Ben last year into an inspiring campaign to help other youngsters recognise unidentified, and potentially fatal, heart conditions.
Ben was a bright and active young man, who loved being outdoors, enjoyed his weekend job at a local farm, had earned his Duke of Edinburgh Award bronze award, and was preparing to embark on the silver programme.
Without warning, he suffered a massive, and fatal, heart attack – one of at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people who die each week of undiagnosed heart conditions.
In their distinctive Team Ben Hammond green tee-shirts, Steve, Sheralyn, Nick Vincent, Jane George and 15-year-old Lucy Hill explained to Wealden Business Group their immediate future objective – to bring a heart monitoring unit from the CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) charity to Tenterden next year, capable of screening up to 100 people aged 14-35 in a single day.
The cost of this will be £8,500, but High Halden-based Team Ben Hammond have already raised a sizeable chunk from a lively programme of sponsorships and events.
Steve told WBG members that in the vast majority of cardiac arrest cases among the young, there are no advance warning or symptoms – which is why bringing the CRY screening unit to Tenterden (a service unavailable on the NHS) could help save lives.