Friends and family step out in memory of tragic youth

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FRIENDS and family of a South Yorkshire teenager who died suddenly in his sleep stepped out for a charity walk to raise awareness of undiagnosed heart conditions.

Daniel Antcliffe, aged 16, from Whiston, Rotehrham, died of SADS - or sudden arrythmic death syndrome - two years ago while staying at a friend’s house.

Daniel Antcliffe

Daniel Antcliffe

Since then his family have launched a fundraising drive to provide heart defibrillators in South Yorkshire schools, which could potentially save the lives of other young people.

The annual sponsored walk started in Whiston, following a route through Clifton Park and the town centre, with around 80 people taking part in the seven-mile trek.

Daniel’s uncle Simon Ash said the event raised around £3,000, bettering last year’s total of £2,400.

“It went fine - as good as can be expected,” he said. “There was a good turnout, and at the party afterwards we had around 100 people.”

Many of the walkers wore T-shirts printed with a photo of Daniel and the name of charity SADS UK, but Simon said some took a more wacky approach, donning their best fancy dress outfits.

“Someone came as Bugs Bunny and a few of the lasses had tutus and short skirts and things like that,” added Simon, 35.

The walk happened the day after what would have been Daniel’s 19th birthday, and also coincided with the birthday of Simon’s friend Michael Winfrey, who died by tragic coincidence this year on January 11, the same date as Daniel but two years later.

Michael, 42, from Wickersley, was killed in a huge blast at the Sterecycle waste treatment and recycling centre in Templeborough.

Simon said most of the money raised will go to SADS UK, but a portion will be used to buy a commemorative plaque to remember Michael.

“Probably 95 per cent of the money will go to SADS, but from the beginning we said we were also going to get a plaque,” he added.

Last year’s walk raised money for two defibrillators, which have been placed in Dinnington School and Whiston Worrygoose School.

“A lot of the time young people are doing exercise, or something like that, and all of a sudden they drop for no reason whatsoever,” said Simon.

“If a defibrillator was about it could help restart their heart.”

The walk was followed up with a free night of buffet food and musical entertainment at the Prince of Wales Hotel on Princes Street, Masbrough.

A raffle was also held with an array of donated prizes, ranging from signed football shirts to a tattoo, and the entertainment included an Elvis impersonator and an acoustic set from Michael’s daughter, Kerry.

“It was Michael’s first birthday without him here, it was brave of her,” Simon said.

“She did a couple of songs she wrote herself and some covers. She was very good, very talented.”

Simon added that he will soon start planning next year’s walk.

“It’s a way of keeping Daniel’s memory alive, and also trying to make something good out of a bad situation,” he said.