Downham Market woman raises the bar for Dechox charity challenge in mum’s memory

Laura Harwin with 11 week old Sierra Harwin from Downham Market (Laura is taking part in British Heart Foundation DeChox campaign in memory of her late mum who died of rare heart condition aged 48)
Laura Harwin with 11 week old Sierra Harwin from Downham Market (Laura is taking part in British Heart Foundation DeChox campaign in memory of her late mum who died of rare heart condition aged 48)

A self-confessed chocaholic from Downham is taking on a Dechox challenge to raise funds for a charity she has close connections with.

New mum Laura Harwin, 30, is attempting to give up the sugary snack for the whole of March to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), after losing her own mother to a rare heart condition in 2010.

Laura said: “My mum’s death was completely unexpected. One minute she was complaining of heartburn, the next she was lying in an intensive care hospital bed covered in wires and tubes.”

She said her mum, Beryl, who was only 48 when she began to experience these heartburn-like symptoms, spent the whole time in hospital unconscious.

Beryl was on life support for two weeks, but had a brain haemorrhage and sadly passed away on February, 1, 2010.

Laura said: “We were later told that if she would have woken up from her coma, a heart transplant would have been the only option to make sure she survived.

“My life turned upside down. I was just 23 and there was no warning and no time for me to say goodbye or tell her how much I loved her.

“There was also no history of heart disease in our family, so when we discovered that myocarditis, such a rare heart condition, was the cause of her death, we were in total shock,” Laura said.

After her mum’s death, she said herself and her family were left with more questions than answers, and so turned to the BHF for help.

“They were a great source of information about such a rare condition. I wasn’t able to grieve until I knew exactly what had happened to her.

“It’s also incredibly reassuring to know how much research is being funded by the charity, which will help us have more questions answered in the future.”

After giving birth just three months ago, Laura is now encouraging others to sign up to Dechox to help fund heart research and to help prevent such a tragedy happening to someone else.

Laura said: “Taking part in Dechox is my way to help fund research so one day, families aren’t torn apart like mine was.

“I gave birth just three months ago, so I may lose some baby weight as well!”

Last year, more than 18,000 people took part in Dechox, raising about £860,000 for the charity to carry out its much-needed work.

Adrian Adams, head of mass participation at BHF, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Laura for raising so much money to help us fund even more heart research.”

There’s still time to sign up to the BHF’s Dechox challenge and ‘give chocolate the finger’ by visiting www.bhf.org.uk/dechox.