Mother speaks out about daughter Rebecca's life-saving legacy
PUBLISHED: 19:30 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 23:40 04 September 2019
The mother of a nursery teacher who died suddenly from a rare undiagnosed heart condition almost ten years ago has spoken of her daughter's lifesaving legacy.
Rebecca Phillips was just 25 years old when she collapsed at a birthday party at Hadleigh Football Club in November 2010.
She was rushed to hospital but passed away hours later.
Tests later revealed Rebecca had Arrhthmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a rare genetic condition that causes a chamber in the heart to become thin and stretched, disrupting blood flow, the same condition that almost claimed the life of Premiership footballer Fabrice Muamba.
Since her death, Rebecca's mother Julie and her family have helped raise thousands for heart charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) as well of raising money to fund defibrillators in Hadleigh.
Julie said Rebecca's tragic death has left a 'bitter-sweet' legacy - as the money and awareness raised has saved the lives of many, including her own father.
She said: "We had more than 100 youngsters from the age of 14 to 34 screened in Hadleigh. Of these, four were picked up with heart conditions and were referred to hospital.
"My two nieces have what Rebecca had and have now had operations to help their heart if it stops. My brother has also got it.
"It is hard because you think why couldn't Rebecca have found out about it before it happened.
"But it would have been some other family who have gone through what we have been through. It is bitter sweet really.
"Her dad also had a heart condition picked up because of screening so she has saved her dad too."
Julie said it had been heart-breaking having to start a new life without Rebecca.
She said: "She had no signs of symptoms, she had lost lots of weight and was feeling fine.
"She had just met her first true love and was very happy - and then she just went.
"They promised me she didn't suffer, that it was like the electrics in her heart switching off.
"It has been horrendous since she died. It has been like starting a whole new life again without her. You will be having a good day, trying to think of all the happy memories we had together, and then her song will come on the radio and it takes your breath away and you realise you will never see her again."
'We were determined to help prevent other parents from going through the devastation we have'
Since her daughter's death, Julie and her family have helped raise more than £10,000 for charity in her memory.
Soon after the tragedy, more than £8,000 was raised through a Facebook fundraising appeal to pay for heart screenings in Hadleigh through heart charity CRY.
A children's playtime and family evening was later held in Rebecca's memory at the Brewers Arms in Polstead - one of her favourite places.
Due to her Parkinson's disease, Rebecca's mother Julie has found it hard to keep up with fundraising but has recently been helped by Sharon Topple, of STE Independent Celebrant and Events, who recently assisted her host another fundraiser at the pub.
Julie said: "The shock and heartbreak of losing a child is devastating, you just don't think of outliving your children. We were determined to help prevent other parents from going through the devastation we have so decided to raise funds for CRY."
For more information on Cardiac Risk in the Young see here.