Brother describes moment he learnt of sister's tragic death after collapse at football training

Ross with his sister, Jenny Kerwood before she passed away
-Credit: (Image: British Heart Foundation)


The mural of a young woman from Essex who died tragically young has been unveiled to raise awareness. Jenny Kerwood, from Billericay, was just 22 years old when she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while playing for her local football team in February 2012.

Football-mad Jenny had just graduated from Westminster University and was dreaming of a career as a football journalist. A life-long Leyton Orient fan, she had just started working for a football news website reporting on the club, when she died.

Jenny’s brother, Ross, was studying at university when he learnt the news. He said “The day Jenny died she’d gone to football training like she did every Tuesday. About halfway through the session she suddenly collapsed. Her coaches immediately called an ambulance and one of them carried out CPR.

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“One of Jenny’s teammates messaged me on Facebook asking me to call her urgently. When she told me what had happened, I was completely taken aback. I’d only spoken to her the day before.

“Meanwhile my parents had gone to the hospital. They were told that Jenny had passed away in the ambulance on the way to hospital. My dad called me to break the news.

“I remember just being hit by pure grief and crying uncontrollably. It took me about three years to even begin to process my grief. I was only 19 at the time and I just remember thinking this shouldn’t be happening, I shouldn’t be having to grieve for my sister. Nobody knew how to talk to me or what to say – so that was really difficult too.”

It was discovered that Jenny had Bland-White-Garland syndrome, a rare congenital heart condition that affects 1 in every 300,000 live births. Apart from occasionally becoming out of breath during vigorous exercise, she never showed any symptoms.

The mural has been unveiled opposite The Crown and Anchor pub in Edmonton, as part of a new campaign by the British Heart Foundation. The powerful mural is one of a dozen portraits that have been unveiled by the British Heart Foundation to highlight the 12 young people under the age of 35 who die every week due to sudden cardiac death in the UK. The campaign has been timed to coincide with the start of UEFA Euro 2024 with each painting commemorating a talented young footballer or fan who died too soon.

Ross, who is now 31 and lives in Heybridge, said: “Jenny’s big dream was to be a football journalist. She was just starting out on that path when she died. Twelve years ago, it was a much harder industry for women to work in. It’s nice to see that things have changed, although sadly too late for Jenny.

“She was so committed to football. She played for various local teams every weekend, she was very talented and played centre midfield. Since Jenny’s death it’s really bittersweet seeing how women’s football has become so high profile – especially with The Lionesses. You’re really happy because you feel she’s being represented in some way. But also really sad that she’s not here to witness it.”

Jenny Kerwood died in 2012 and her mural has just been unveiled in Edmonton
Jenny Kerwood died in 2012 and her mural has just been unveiled in Edmonton -Credit:British Heart Foundation

The murals come as new research from the British Heart Foundation reveals that most people are largely unaware of the devastating effect heart disease has on young people. Ross, said: “I’m supporting this campaign and the British Heart Foundation’s research because if it can stop another family like ours going through this pain in the future then I feel that Jenny’s death won’t have been in vain.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the BHF, said: “Too many lives are being taken too soon by sudden cardiac death. No-one should have to experience the loss of their child, sibling or parent, but sadly that is the cruel reality of heart disease – it doesn’t discriminate.

“The British Heart Foundation is already carrying out groundbreaking research to treat and prevent the causes of sudden cardiac death, but there is still more to do. We now urgently need donations to help us fund more lifesaving research to prevent other families going through this heartbreak.”

To donate to the British Heart Foundation today, visit bhf.org.uk/untilidied

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