'England 'Til I Died': murals honour young players who died from cardiac arrest

The murals pay tribute to those who have died from sudden cardiac death...

Murals have appeared across the Midlands to honour the lives of young players who died from sudden cardiac death.

Josh Downie, who was from Nottingham died from a cardiac arrest while playing cricket in 2021.

The mural in Sneinton is one of 12 painted across the country, as part of a British Heart Foundation campaign to coincide with the European Championships.

The project, which has the tagline 'England 'Til I Die', commemorates the 12 young people under the age of 35 who lose their lives each week in the UK to sudden cardiac death.

Tom Henson is another young footballer who died from a cardiac arrest. Credit: ITV News Central

As the UEFA Euros kick off, each painting commemorates a talented footballer or fan who died young.

Another of the murals is located in Chesterfield in memory of Tom Henson - a promising footballer who died aged 23 after having a sudden cardiac arrest when playing football with his friends.

It was later discovered that Tom had a congenital heart condition called supravalvular aortic stenosis.

Myles Christie was just 15 when he died Credit: British Heart Foundation

Another mural is in Digbeth in Birmingham, dedicated to a 15-year-old boy who also died suddenly - exactly eight years to the day after the death of his father, also after a sudden cardiac arrest.

Myles Christie suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in 2023, and died two days later in hospital.

“I feel like he’s with his dad now, and he longed for him"

Myles' mum Hayley from Wheaton Aston in South Staffordshire, said she'd been left trying to explain the two sudden deaths to her younger son Carter, who has lost his father and big brother. She said:

“Initially I didn’t really want to be here. I was in shock. I didn’t want to be a widow or a single parent.

“Looking back now I remember Myles having said to me that he was scared he might die young because of his dad. He was having bereavement counselling.

“I feel like he’s with his dad now, and he longed for him.”

Myles Christie Credit: British Heart Foundation

Myles was in year 10 at school and studying for his GCSEs. He played football, basketball and athletics, with ambitions to be a PE teacher.

He played as a striker for Brewood Juniors Football Club in the Walsall Junior Youth League, representing the team from the age of seven.

In May 2023, Hayley went to wake him and found him lying face down on the floor by his bed.

Despite Hayley’s fiancé Nathan performing CPR, paramedics and a doctor at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Myles was blue-lighted, he couldn’t be saved.

Myles' school say they continue to remember him with awards in his name and a memorial garden.

Nathan Verdi, Hayley & Carter Christie by the mural Credit: British Heart Foundation

Hayley says: “Losing your child is the worst thing that can happen to you. I never thought I’d lose my husband let alone my son. I thought our family had had its share of trauma".

“I think the work the BHF is doing in raising awareness of sudden cardiac death in the young is so important.

"This will sadly happen again to other families, but if we can raise awareness and do research into it, it will help. We need to talk about it.

Hayley says “Seeing the mural was a very emotional moment for us all. The detail was incredible, right down to Myles’ hair and his hands.

"I always knew Myles would leave a legacy and I feel the mural has done that.”

The mural in Digbeth is one of 12 across the country Credit: British Heart Foundation

"That is the cruel reality of heart disease – it doesn’t discriminate"

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said:

"Too many lives, like Myles’, are being taken too soon by sudden cardiac death. No-one should have to experience the loss of their child, sibling or parent, but sadly that is the cruel reality of heart disease – it doesn’t discriminate.

“As the nation celebrates the UEFA Euro 2024, these powerful murals serve as a reminder of the young football fans that have been snatched away by sudden cardiac death, and we want to thank the families who have kindly agreed to share their stories.

“The BHF is already carrying out groundbreaking research to treat and prevent the causes of sudden cardiac death, but there is still more to do.

"We urgently need donations to help us fund more lifesaving research to prevent other families going through this heartbreak.”

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