Essex Junior Squash are committed supporters of the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and we encourage all our young athletes to make an appointment to be screened by this amazing organisation.

CRY offers subsidised ECG and Echocardiogram screening to all young people between the ages of 14 & 35 and all of CRY’s public events are free to attend.

For more information, check out their website www.c-r-y.org.uk

Below is a report from Mrs Jo Braddock, mum of one of our young Essex players, Joel Braddock. She tells us the background to why they thought it important to have Joel tested by CRY.

When Joel was born he was nearly two months premature and the first couple of years of his life were marked by chest infections, breathing difficulties and frequent episodes of cyanosis (turning blue/purple). Eventually he was referred to the paediatricians at Colchester Hospital who suspected that he may have cystic fibrosis. Thankfully, this proved not to be the case but in the course of the investigations he was found to have a significant heart murmur, probably due to his prematurity and also probably the cause of his purple moments! He had a full cardiac screening done at that time which found no long term issues, and the heart murmur resolved itself, as I hoped it would, over the next few years.

Joel Braddock photographed during a CRY test

When he started playing squash at age 4 I didn’t really think about all of this, he was by then healthy and active and just wanted to hit a ball with a racket as often as he could. Within a few years though, when Joel was 8 or 9 and playing at a much higher level, everyone who had anything to do with squash was rocked by the unthinkable death of Harry Faulkner, one of the region’s best U19 players at the time, during a match. He’d been feeling iffy that day apparently, he though he had a bit of indigestion but he had a team match that evening and wanted to play. He was playing well, and slapped one into the nick – turned around to his coach outside the court, winked at him, then went grey and collapsed. He died in hospital a couple of hours later.
If anything good can be said to have come out of this horrific tragedy, it is the increased awareness that has been raised in squash about the importance of cardiac screening for young athletes. Joel was probably in a better position than most – he had been screened numerous times as an infant and we knew that there was nothing unusual going on but when I heard about the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young – CRY.org – who offer free screening for young people from the age of 14, I knew that I would make sure Joel was re-screened as soon as possible.
He got an appointment this year, in the Easter holidays. We travelled to the venue, The Plume School in Maldon, there was no waiting and no fuss. Joel was weighed and measured and the basic screening was carried out which is painless, non-invasive and quick, involving no more than having a lie down with a few electrodes stuck at various points of your body! Once the screening is done he was seen by a doctor who explained the results. If the basic ECG shows anything unusual, they will then perform an echo-cardiogram but in Joel’s case this wasn’t needed. However the doctor did ask for him to come back when he is 16 as the ECG indicates that he is apparently still growing and they like to get an adult trace to follow up juvenile results.
It isn’t easy to get booked into a screening event so I would urge everyone to visit the website www.CRY.org and sign up to their alert system. Even so, you need to be quick off the mark as local sessions get booked fast, but it is really worth persevering. I can’t say strongly enough how crucial this service is, and CRY offer it free. Please book.