A special fund-raising effort will take place next month in memory of former Technical Director Robert Rowan that will also support our local community. As part of an ongoing effort from all at Brentford Football Club to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), Head of Medical Neil Greig will be running the Manchester Marathon. The money raised will also support new community initiatives to help cardiac health.
Robert died suddenly in November 2018 after suffering a fatal cardiomyopathy episode. He is still fondly remembered by all at Brentford FC and the Club has been raising money for CRY at a variety of events over the past three years. Staff were thinking of Robert and his family on Sunday, 12 September, on what would have been his 31st birthday.
Every week in the UK at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions. Since its formation in 1995, CRY has been working to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death (YSCD). CRY – which has former player, manager and Chief Scout Andy Scott as a patron – supports young people diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and offers bereavement support to families affected by YSCD.
Neil is a regular marathon runner, having completed the London Marathon three times, lastly in 2018. He was training for the Manchester Marathon, which will take place on Sunday 10 October, and decided that it would be a great opportunity to raise money for CRY as well as helping to fund the purchase of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) for local sports teams and grounds. Neil spoke to Robert’s wife Suzanne and began raising funds from the players he works with on a daily basis.
“I have run marathons before for other charities and have always been overwhelmed by the generosity of the players, staff and fans,” explained Neil. “This is the first fund-raising I have done since Rob’s death, and I wanted to do my bit for a great charity. With around four weeks to go, training has been good, and I will be ready for the start.”
Neil and the Club will be splitting the money raised between CRY, who will fund heart screenings in Robert’s name, and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. The Trust will spend some of what is raised to provide AEDs and training in how to use them for football clubs or at sports pitches in the local area, aimed at helping save the life of someone experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. This continues work already done by the Trust in Robert’s memory, which has included hosting heart screenings in the area and a new position working between Brentford B and the Trust.
The importance of defibrillators was shown in the summer when Denmark midfield player Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest when playing for his country in a UEFA European Championship match. His life was saved when he was defibrillated on the pitch. Having defibrillators in more community settings, as well as training in how to use them, and in CPR, will save lives.
“When I mentioned it to the players, their reaction was incredible,” added Neil. “Everyone here saw what happened to Christian Eriksen in the summer and we had three players – Marcus Forss, Mathias Jensen and Christian Nørgaard – that were there that day. Our players would like some of their donations to go towards making defibrillators available in more areas and our Trust are already working to find the best places.
“CRY do great work in checking the hearts of young people to try and save lives. We do these heart screenings as part of our work with players, and it fits perfectly that CRY, the Trust and the Club will work together to host a screening in Rob’s memory. This will, I’m sure, make some people aware of heart issues they did not know they had.
“Rob is still a massive presence at the Club, he regularly comes up in conversation and we all miss him. Running in his memory will, I’m sure, push me on and some of the players have offered to increase their donations if I beat my target time, so that will help as well. Hopefully we can all save some lives.”
Brentford FC will also be marking Restart a Heart Day 2021. This will take place on Saturday 16 October, the date we host Chelsea in a Premier League game at our new stadium. Restart a Heart Day raises awareness of cardia arrest and helps people learn CPR and other life saving skills. To sponsor Neil, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilGreig1.