Surf trio take on epic surf paddle challenge in memory of best friends

North Devon Gazette

Alex Downie, Richie Heard and David Baxter from Hartland are going above and beyond to raise money and awareness for heart charity CRY by surf paddling 60 miles to Newquay, Cornwall.

Sixteen years ago, this group of childhood friends was devastated by the loss of nineteen-year-old Martyn Luckett who passed away suddenly without warning from an underlying heart condition.

Just two years later, the group lost another friend, twenty-one-year-old Jason Ayre, to a similar condition.

The group bonded through their love of surfing, skateboarding and biking, meaning that the boys were fit and healthy when their tragic deaths occurred.

In fact, every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (aged 35 and under) die from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

80% of these deaths will occur with no prior symptoms and research has shown screening reduces the incidence of young sudden cardiac deaths by 89%.

This is why screening is so important and why CRY wants all young people across the UK to have the choice to be tested.

Surfing has continued to play an important role in the friendship between Alex, Richie and David, and they have wanted to do something meaningful and impactful for years in memory of Martyn and Jason.

On Friday, June 11 they are undertaking a gruelling 60-mile challenge, surf paddling 20 miles a day for three consecutive days from Hartland down to Newquay.

This is a tough challenge not to be taken lightly – the trio have been training all winter in preparation for their marathon journey.

They will be carrying everything they need with them and camping out on the beach throughout the challenge with no respite from the elements.

All the money raised will go towards funding vital heart screenings for young people with CRY in order to prevent future tragedies.

The team have so far raised £800 but they’re hoping to reach £2,500 by the date of the challenge. Â

There are CRY donation pots at various pubs and shops in Hartland or you can donate via their Virgin Money Giving page.

Alex said: “Martyn and Jason were both big characters and loads of fun to be around. They had their whole lives ahead of them and we really wanted to do something to honour their memory and prevent other young lives from being cut short.

“CRY is an amazing charity which offers lots of support for people living with heart conditions as well as for bereaved families. Their vision is preventing young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research and we are proud to put all the money we raise behind this amazing work.”

CRY now tests more than 30,000 young people (aged 14-35) a year in the UK – and well over 225,000 since its foundation in 1995. Alex, Richie and David hope that their paddle board challenge can help raise awareness of CRY’s services throughout Devon and Cornwall.

Dr Steven Cox, Chief Executive of CRY, added: “It is always so poignant to see supporters of CRY like Alex, Richie and David going to such lengths to raise money and awareness in memory of those they’ve tragically lost to previously undiagnosed heart conditions.

“It takes great courage to take on a challenge so gruelling as a 60-mile paddle board marathon – but this is driven by an enduring determination to do something to honour the memories of Martyn and Jason.

“On behalf of CRY, I would like to thank Alex, Richie and David for their dedication to supporting CRY in the vital work we do to help prevent sudden cardiac deaths in young people.”

For updates on the paddleboard challenge, follow ‘Paddle for CRY’ on Facebook or @paddleforcry on Instagram. Donate here: