Tragic referee can leave a legacy for local soccer

Figure head: Memory of Roger Evans can inspire donations.
Figure head: Memory of Roger Evans can inspire donations.
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THE FAMILY of a referee who died from a heart attack at the end of a game are spearheading a new campaign to provide life-saving machines across South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire’s grassroots grounds.

Roger Evans, from Dronfield, collapsed after blowing the final whistle to end a game between South Normanton and Borrowash Victoria Reserves on March 24. Attempts were made to revive him, but he died on the pitch.

No defibrillator - a device that gives the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac arrest - was available.

Now Roger’s widow Susan, daughter Helen and son Richard are hoping Star readers will join others in the football community in providing funds to enable the machines to be distributed.

The campaign is being promoted in this area by The Star and Sheffield and Hallamshire Football Association.

The ultimate target is to provide as many defibrillators as possible to 500 school, local authority or private sites across our region.

The issue of immediate treatment for heart victims is particularly topical because of the cardiac arrest suffered recently by Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba.

The 23-year-old got the best treatment possible at White Hart Lane and has since started to make a recovery. Roger, 59. did not have any such facilities at his disposal in the Central Midlands League. His funeral service was held yesterday at Whiston Manorial Barn.

His widow Susan told The Star: “Roger did not have a history of heart problems but there had been some on his side of the family.

“He was very conscious of that and had done some research with the Heart Foundation and had always stayed fit and healthy.

“He never had time off (ill) from his job (Health and Safety inspector) and seemed fine on the morning of the game.

“My son and daughter live a distance away so I had to tell them over the phone that their dad was dead.”

Helen, a police forensic worker, came up with the notion of spearheading a campaign to provide defibrillators.

Susan said: “The idea of a campaign has helped, it is not a distraction from what has happened, but it is a focus for us because it is something positive.”

She added that Roger, who used to play Sunday League football for Brunsmeer Athletic in Dore before starting officiating in the 1970s at university, would have approved of such a campaign.

The family say attractive match-funding is available for the purchase of the machines - which do not need trained personnel to use - so any pound that is donated by Star readers and others will attract further finance.

James Hope-Gill, Chief Executive of the S&H FA, said his organisation were backing the appeal and hoped to help in the distribution of machines in a 20-mile radius of Sheffield city centre, supplying teams that have some form of clubhouse or storage facility.

Roger’s daughter Helen said: “The survival rate (of heart patients) soars with the use of these machines, which only send out an electric shock if it cannot identify a heart beat. We hope this can do some good.”

You can donate to this cause through PayPal (see www.hides.force9.co.uk/rogerevans) or sending funds to ref.rog@hotmail.com.

Cheques payable to R Evans can be sent to Alfred Dunham and Sons, Funeral Directors, 56 Snape Hill Lane, Dronfield, S18 2LG. Further information: e-mail ref.rog@hotmail.com