First Minister pledges to do more to prevent sudden death as parent's campaign gathers pace

  • Video report by ITV News Border's Barnaby Papadopulos

David Hill was just thirty years old when he died, suddenly, on a rugby pitch in Dublin.

He had no health issues that he was aware of, and was a keen sportsman. After suffering a brief dizzy spell while playing for the Sottish cross-parliamentary rugby team he collapsed.

Sudden death syndrome is a phase used to describe a number of cardiac conditions, previously undiagnosed, which can lead to sudden death.

David's parents, Sharon and Rodger, are now campaigning to raise awareness of the condition, in memory of their son.

They hope, one day, that screening will be offered to young people, which could help doctors determine if a person is at risk of sudden cardiac death. They told ITV News that around 600 people die each year from the condition.

"12 young people in the UK die each week from sudden cardiac death, and that number is just horrendous," said Rodger.

"Cardiac screening does not happen. It's not free. It doesn't happen en masse."

He added that the campaign has since raised over £36,000 to fund cardiac screening for young people in Dumfries and Galloway, where they and David are from.

Now their campaign is attracting political attention. A recent trip to Holyrood saw them meet the First Minister, Humza Yousef, who signed a pledge organised by the charity CRY.

Rodger and Sharon met the First Minister last month Credit: Family handout.

It reads: “I pledge to support a National Strategy for the Prevention of Young Sudden Cardiac Death to help save the lives of the 12 apparently fit and healthy young people who die every week in the UK of undiagnosed cardiac conditions.”

David used to work at Holyrood, and was posthumously awarded political staffer of the year at last year's Holyrood Political Awards.

Sharon said the pledge was about MSPs striving "to support further study and investigation into sudden cardiac death in young people."

"We had 58 out of 129 MSPs sign the pledge on that day. Within an hour."

Rodger added: "We were really heartened when we were joined by the First Minister who signed the pledge, and that will make a huge difference."

Both David's parents know that this will be a long campaign; one they've only just started. Ultimately, they aim to ensure no other family has to suffer the kind of loss that they have.

"If we can make it so that no other family has to go through this loss then it will have been for something.

"That's a legacy I think David would be proud of."

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