Sheffield widow’s heart disease warning after Dave Lowe’s tragic diving death at Great Barrier Reef

When June Lowe posed with husband David before a dream boat trip, she had no idea it would be their last picture together.

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 6:16 am

The couple, from Richmond, Sheffield, had headed off together on a holiday of a lifetime to Australia to tie in with his 60th birthday, and David, a qualified scuba diver, was looking forward to heading to the Great Barrier Reef.

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Tributes to Sheffield man David Lowe after diving tragedy on Great Barrier Reef ...

The Owls season ticket holder had already met the then Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal on the flight across.

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June Lowe is urging people to get any heart disease symptoms checked out so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016, when her husband, Dave, suffered a heart attack diving at the Great Barrier Reef

June planned to go snorkelling on the surface, and the couple were photographed before they got aboard the boat.

They set off on the boat, and David successfully took his first dive. The water was quite choppy so June decided against snorkelling.

It moved on to another location. David hoped for a better dive than the previous one. June took another picture of him before he dived again – the last she has of him.

David went into the water – but was found dead under the sea.

June Lowe is urging people to get any heart disease symptoms checked out so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016, when her husband, Dave, suffered a heart attack diving at the Great Barrier Reef. This was the last picture taken of him, in his giving gear, before his last dive

Initially it was reported he had died in an accident. But now June knows the tragedy was not an accident – it was an undiagnosed heart condition she believes could easily have been treated if it had been picked up.

Now she is urging others to check out any symptoms so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016.

“We had visited family, and booked diving on Agincourt reef. David had just become a PADI advanced diver. He’d dived in Egypt, Malta and England before, and it was probably going to be his sixth diving trip.

“He would try anything, and only started when he was about 55.

June Lowe is urging people to get any heart disease symptoms checked out so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016, when her husband, Dave, suffered a heart attack diving at the Great Barrier Reef. This was the last picture taken of them together before they boarded a boat for the dive.

“We got on the boat, and had our picture taken getting on in Cairns. I stayed on the boat while he did his first dive, with a dive buddy and instructors. I stayed on the boat because it was a bit rough.

“He came back after the first dive and I took a picture of him. I said to him ‘what was it like’? He said it was OK but no better than Egypt. He was looking forward to the next dive, where it was calmer water.

“He sat with me while I had something to eat before he went for his dive.

“I started getting ready to go snorkelling. I’d just got one leg into my stinger suit, when I saw a blond lad running across the boat with a walkie talkie. I thought something had happened, and thought ‘it had better not be you, Dave’. There was a life raft being raised above my head.

June Lowe is urging people to get any heart disease symptoms checked out so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016, when her husband, Dave, suffered a heart attack diving at the Great Barrier Reef. She is pictured with diaries she hopes to turn into a book.

“The next thing, a woman who we’d been talking to earlier said ‘it’s Dave’.

“They took me through to where he was. I kept saying ‘tell me he’s breathing and it’ll be all right’. They couldn’t.

“There were people all around. Someone said the air ambulance is here, and they don’t send them if there’s no hope. But then someone called Luke – I’ll never forget that – came and told he’s gone. I screamed.”

That was when the shock hit June, who was still an hour and a half from the shore.

She discovered David had been found under the water with his mouthpiece out.

June Lowe is urging people to get any heart disease symptoms checked out so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016, when her husband, Dave, suffered a heart attack diving at the Great Barrier Reef. He is pictured on their last holiday to Australia

Australia

Her daughters and her sister flew to Australia to be with her and help her back home to Sheffield.

That was when a long mental health battle started for June – who was shattered by what she had been through.

Initially she felt suicidal, but decided she could get through what had hit her.

She says she knew people suffered worse things, but that did not help with the pain.

She was initially put on diazepam, used to treat anxiety, but the former pharmacy worker was concerned it could be addictive and quickly weaned herself off.

She believes a doctor at her local GP practice saved her – by diagnosing her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

That helped lead to two important factors. Firstly, she started to receive counselling from Cruse Bereavement, a charity which helps those who have lost loved ones.

Secondly, she was referred to a treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) at the East Glade Clinic in Sheffield. It is a treatment that uses eye movements to help the patient reprocess what happened to them. For June, it worked, and she says it gave her the tools to move forward, taking her through what happened and putting it back together in a different way.

Counselling from Cruse was also crucial – helping her recover and accept help from caring people. She now hopes to train to be a counsellor herself, such is her appreciation of how it helped her.

Ischaemic heart disease

After what happened to Dave, a furnace brick layer for SHL Refractories, described as mild mannered, June wants to warn others about the hidden illness that killed him – ischaemic heart disease, a heart problem caused by narrowed heart arteries.

She said Dave suffered from a form of arthritis, and feels that it masked his heart problems.

“A lot of symptoms can get masked,” she said. “There were signs. He complained of heartburn. He talked about arms and shoulders hurting, and hands hurting, and would say he hoped it wasn't arthritis springing up.

“The coroner said his death could have happened anywhere, but if he had been to hospital, he could have had a stent that could have given him another 20 years. Dave was a typical man – he hardly ever went to the doctors. I want people to get checked out, and not to let other illnesses mask it.”

June, who hopes to write a book about her experience, has got through the worst of the grief.

“What saved me was friends and family, and ultimately keeping busy,” she added. “I don’t think I’d have coped if it had been during the Covid lockdown.”

June Lowe is urging people to get any heart disease symptoms checked out so others do not have to go through what she did in November 2016, when her husband, Dave, suffered a heart attack diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Dave was pictured with then Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal on the flight out to their holiday in Australia.