A LEADING heart charity is funding free heart screenings, in honour of a former Penarth school pupil who died at the finish line of the 2018 Cardiff Half Marathon.

Ben McDonald suffered a cardiac arrest at the finish line of the race in October last year.

The twenty-five-year-old was immediately attended, but could not be saved.

The Ben McDonald Heart Screening Fund was established following his death, and offers free screening to people aged 8 to 45 in a bid to reduce the hundreds of deaths every year caused by undiagnosed heart conditions.

On August 31 Welsh Hearts officially launched the Ben McDonald Heart Screening Fund in Cardiff.

The charity will be holding many screening days in the build-up to the Cardiff half marathon and urges everyone, especially athletes and sportspeople to get screened.

When discussing the event, Sharon Owen from Welsh Hearts said: “I’m over the moon with how popular the screening has been and how many people have come to see us. Hundreds die every year unnecessarily due to undetected heart defects and we’re determined to significantly reduce this number and our heart screening sessions are just one step towards achieving that mission. Ultimately, we want to see the Welsh Government fund these lifesaving tests so that more lives can be saved.”

Ben McDonald’s mum, Ruth McDonald, said: “To be able to carry on Ben’s memory with such an important cause is fantastic and really means a lot to his family and friends. Losing someone close is an incredibly difficult thing to go through but it’s comforting to know that it has helped start an initiative to save so many lives and save other families from having to go through the same thing.”

Welsh Hearts said: “We are delighted to be able to facilitate the screening for such an important cause. It’s vital we do what we can to help detect heart defects amongst those who otherwise may have not been made aware they had one, and therefore we could potentially save hundreds of lives.”

Welsh Hearts will also be holding a special screening day on October 5, the day before the Cardiff Half Marathon, at Ben McDonald’s old school St Cyres School.

Sharon Owen, founder of Welsh Hearts, will be supporting Ruth McDonald, Mr McDonald’s mum, as they walk the Cardiff Half Marathon 2019 together in Mr McDonald’s memory.

Heart screening appointments can be made through the Welsh Hearts Charity website at www.welshhearts.org/heart-screening-wales