Rugby legend Martin Johnson lends support to SADS Awareness Week at DMU

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Members of De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU) will be supporting an awareness-raising week of activities to help promote better understanding of sudden heart deaths this October.

SADS Awareness Week will take place from Monday 2 to Friday 6 October, and is organised by Leicestershire charity the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust (JHMT), set up after the death of 14-year-old Joe from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) in 2012 while out on a training jog near his home.

On Wednesday we’ll be hosting Leicestershire’s ‘Restart A Heart Day’ at De Montfort University (DMU) with Kasabian star Chris Edwards as part of SADS Week; while the following day, we’ll host talks on SADS and its implications for those who play sport – with a bit of help from rugby legend Martin Johnson.

Students and staff will be invited to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator in the Campus Centre building – where we unveiled the first public access defibrillator on the DMU campus with JHMT back in April this year.


Current President of DSU Ahtesham Mahmood and Steve Humphries, father of Joe, unveiled DSU's defib in April 2017.

The event will be open anyone passing by, with training delivered by East Midlands Ambulance Service, Community First Responders and JHMT.

Led by Dr Ffion Davies, accident and emergency consultant and JHMT’s SADS expert, Thursday’s session will examine SADS and its implications for those who participate in physical activities. There will also be feedback from other local ‘heartsafe’ initiatives, including Leicester City Council’s Heart Friendly Parks scheme and Leicestershire County Cricket Club’s Heart Awareness Cricket project, both of which run in conjunction with JHMT. 

The talk starts at 5.30pm in the Hugh Aston building and is open to all students, staff, and members of the community.

For further details, call 0116 366 4813 or email abigail.battisto@dmu.ac.uk.

JHMT patron and England’s Rugby World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson, who will open the Thursday talk, said: “Once again, SADS Week is a timely reminder for us all of the importance of people having basic CPR life-saving skills and knowing how to use a defibrillator.

“What a bystander does or does not do in those vital few seconds and minutes following a collapse can be the difference between surviving or not. Every year in the UK, there are 27,000 potentially survivable sudden cardiac deaths. Simple skills really do save lives and CPR can buy vital time.”

Leicester Tigers legend Martin Johnson is a patron of the JHMT and played in our football teams' annual charity fundraiser earlier this year.

JHMT medical lead and consultant in emergency medicine at Leicester’s hospitals, Dr Ffion Davies, said: “It’s great to see that year on year the JHMT increases SADS awareness amongst healthcare professionals in Leicestershire, and promotes CPR training and defibrillator familiarity amongst more and more local sports organisations, schools and members of the public. This will save lives.”

Back in April, then VP Student Activities and current President of DSU, Ahtesham Mahmood, remarked: “I think our student groups have really pushed this through.

“As the regional British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) chair, I will be taking the opportunity to roll initiatives like this out nationally, and I want to conduct a facility audit to find out where equipment is available and how we can do better.

“It’s not just at a local level, but an example of how DSU are looking to work with JHMT in trying to spearhead a change on a national stage.”

You can find out more about the Trust’s work, and how you can get involved, on their website here as well as following them on Facebook and Twitter.


Events at DMU during SADS Awareness Week are open to students, staff, and members of the local Leicester community.

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