The editor meets... Linda Boden

It was an absolute pleasure to have met Linda (and her husband John) recently; and so moving to have listened to her story about how/why she became involved with SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome).

There are times in our lives when we know we have met with someone special – and Linda is certainly one of those people. She has clearly shown the rest of us that it is possible to make a huge difference in life; in Linda’s case, to peoples survival after cardiac arrest.

Thank you so much Linda. Here is her story... David - Editor

I have just read a poem called ‘The Dash’. It is about the dash on headstones which represents the life of the person, in between the dates.

May I share my son, Andrew Cliffe, with you. Andrew has a dash, 1980 - 2006, and he has a wonderful story to tell.

Andrew was born on 12 November 1980, which proved to be a bitterly cold night. He was a very contented baby. As he grew up he was always a happy chappy with such a mischievous smile. He could get away with murder; hated school; but loved it when he began work. He was a very loving son, friendly, and loved life.

On 26 November 2006 we found Andrew had passed away in his sleep, with what we now know to have been ‘Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome’, which is an adult form of ‘Cot Death’. He was 26 years old, and his life had ended . . . and so had mine, or so I thought.

I joined a group called SADS UK in 2007. This wonderful charity raises money for defibrillators and places them in schools and public places, helping to save lives. In honour of Andrew, I wanted to put a defibrillator into Middlewich High School; if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure if I would ever manage to achieve it.

It was then that I realised what a truly wonderful place Middlewich is. Middlewich High School got their defibrillator . . . so did all the schools in Middlewich; and another 20 located at various places around Middlewich. The next defibrillator is going to be for the Community Centre.

I totally underestimated my son . . . his love has turned his dash into his legacy, and his story still continues. I also totally underestimated the people of Middlewich . . . they have proved to have such a huge heart and a wonderful community spirit. Through their love and continuing support Middlewich is now one of the ‘Heartsafe’ places to live.

I continue to be totally amazed at the different fund-raising ideas people come up with; from fancy dress nights; bungee jumps; quizzes etc. There is also a dedicated group that run the Manchester 10k every year . . . and every one of the fund-raising events has proved to be absolutely amazing.

I work for Tesco in one of their Express Stores. My previous area manager, upon hearing of Andrew’s story, made the decision that all Tesco North West Express Stores were to be equipped with a defibrillator . . . as well as 800 Tesco Superstores!

Andrew’s heart started this story, a story that appears to have no ending. How many lives will have been saved by using these defibrillators we will never know . . . but saved they will be. The chances of survival after cardiac arrest diminish every minute that elapses. Immediate defibrillation gives a 90% chance of survival. After 2 minutes, 75%. After 4 minutes, 55%. After 6 minutes, 36%. After 8 minutes, 16%. After 10 minutes the chances of survival are remote. So the more defibrillators we have, the chances of people surviving are far greater.

I have always said, since the death of my beloved son, that “Andrew is the heart. I am the mouthpiece. And the people of Middlewich are the body”.

Together, we in Middlewich, have proven to be a strong team - as we could not have achieved what we have to date without the other.

Andrew’s dash has never stopped . . . now I realise his is just a different kind of dash. I am so proud to be his Mum . . . and also a Middlewicher.

Thank you . . . Linda Boden

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