Proud mum's tribute to 'great son' as family and friends work to supply defibrillators across Northern Ireland through the Danny Mills Heart Foundation
Family and friends of a young Bangor man who died suddenly because of a heart condition are working to supply defibrillators across Northern Ireland. Danny Mills, 21, was found dead in his living room on New Year’s Day two years ago — a victim of sudden adult death syndrome (SADS).
Since then the Danny Mills Heart Foundation has raised more than £50,000 and donated 15 defibrillators to local organisations.
His mother Pauline said: “We don’t want anyone in this world to go through what we’ve been through and if those defibrillators can save even just one life, then that’s Daniel’s legacy living on.
“Being able to place defibrillators in sports centres or schools means that we know that if a child or an adult has a heart problem that there’s a chance there for their life to be saved.
“Unfortunately for us, that just means that we have to suffer without him for that legacy to continue.”
SADS is responsible for up to 500 deaths a year in the United Kingdom, usually caused by cardiac arrest.
As they struggled to come to terms with Danny’s death, friends were determined to turn the tragedy into something positive.
Close friend Chris Armstrong revealed: “There was a group of us, just Danny’s mates, who started trying to raise a bit of money to help pay for the funeral.
“It got to the stage where Danny’s wider friendship circle were also giving money so it started getting a bit out of control and we decided the best thing to do was to start a website where people could make donations.
“It turned out we were able to pay for the funeral and there was still about three or four thousand left, so we decided to see if we could keep raising money in Danny’s name. That initial plan has grown so much that we are now able to provide defibrillators and we’re able to spread awareness of sudden adult death syndrome, something we knew nothing about before.”
Danny’s father Frank added: “So many people have helped us, so we’re only too glad to help them out. Pickie Bowling Club have supported us a lot and they didn’t have a defibrillator so we were able to give them one.
“We’ve also been able to give defibrillators to school kids in Clandeboye Primary and Glastry College and obviously we hope they never have to use them, but they’re there if they do.”
The Danny Mills Heart Foundation has already got the backing of Ulster rugby star Craig Gilroy who was a friend of Danny and is now the charity’s ambassador.
Pauline said: “Craig wears Danny’s name on his wrist and when he scored for Ireland it was there for the whole world to see — it was amazing exposure for us.”
It also recently won the backing of global coffee shop brand Caffe Nero, who selected the worthwhile cause as its chosen charity for their stores across the province.
The foundation raised £3,000 from a fight night; had people running in the Belfast City Marathon; and has organised a golf day and Hallowe’en night at Clandeboye Lodge Hotel in October.
Pauline added: “No one will ever make money from this charity, it will always be about raising awareness for sudden adult death syndrome and helping as many people as we possibly can.
“If anyone knows of any club or school that doesn’t have a defibrillator we are always asking for people to drop us an email or come and speak to us at an event.”
The work of the foundation has helped ease some of the pain felt by Danny’s parents.
Pauline said: “I’m not just saying this because he’s my son, but he was the best son you could wish for. He was just a loveable big clown and what his friends have done for us and this charity proves what an incredible bunch of young people they are.
“What we’ve been able to do and the good that has come out of his death is beyond belief and I’ll never be able to thank everyone enough.
“If we can save even just one life then that will be fantastic.”
See www.dannymillsfoundation.com for more information.
Belfast Telegraph Digital