A LOVING mother from West Devon, whose athlete daughter died young from an undiagnosed heart condition, ran the Paris Half Marathon to help avoid unnecessary deaths.

The sponsored race supports her bid to change safeguarding protocols and increase access to screening in order diagnose young sports people for heart conditions early. Hilary’s daughter Clarissa died last year just short of her 21st birthday in May, despite being highly active and fit as a member of Tavistock Athletic Club.

Hilary, of Lamerton, finished in 1 hour 40 and raised £10,840 in sponsorship which she said was phenomenal: “I ran in memory of Clarissa and as a tribute to the places I knew she regularly ran while she was on her languages year abroad in Paris. It was an emotional run and a pretty painful one physically as I was carrying a hamstring tendinopathy but thanks to the spur of Clarissa and so many of my supporters me I finished.

“Together with Clarissa’s Campaign for Cambridge hearts we have secured funding for two days of screening and are on our way to the four we have planned and which will take place every year until we have secured a more permanent solution which should screen thousands of the community each and every year.”

Hilary Nicholls (R) and her late daughter Clarissa
Hilary Nicholls (R) and her late daughter Clarissa (Submitted)

Clarissa’s Campaign is a campaign to raise funds for four annual screening days run by Cambridge University (where Clarissa studied languages) Sports through the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). CRY aims to prevent young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research; and to support affected families. CRY funds fast-track services at the CRY Centre for Inherited Cardiovascular Conditions and Sports Cardiology and the CRY Centre for Cardiac Pathology

Each screening day a CRY cardiologist will screen 100-125 students so 400-500 in total - saving up to two lives each year.

Hilary added: “Right now I know we will have saved at least one young life from a totally unsuspected heart condition and with thousands tested that number will rise to dozens of lives saved. I hope that Cambridge’s example will serve to inspire other universities grassroots community clubs and their regions to follow suit to make this a national approach to protect future generations. 

“On a personal note, I am so grateful to friends, family and the total strangers who have so incredibly generous. This is just the start. I couldn’t achieve these goals without them and I am lucky to have had a beautiful daughter with all our laughs, snuggles and shared craziness to hold within my heart. She was a total gift and now she is my shining light. May that light shine for others so they can avert tragedies like ours.”

To donate to Clarissa’s Campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/f/clarissas-campaign