Murals honour young player and football fan who died after sudden cardiac arrest

The murals depict Chris Murray and Jamie Skinner, both of whom died suddenly after having cardiac arrests.

Scottish star striker Lawrence Shankland has spoken about the loss of his school friend whose mural features as part of a powerful new campaign by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to raise awareness of sudden cardiac death. 

The artwork is one of two in Scotland – and 12 across the UK – dedicated to football fans who died at a young age.

The murals show the two football fans in a Scotland T-shirt with the slogan ‘Scotland ‘til I died’. 

The murals depict Chris Murray, from Glasgow, who was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy at age three, which can be an inherited heart condition.

Chris, a life-long Rangers FC fan, collapsed at work and died aged 22 after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. 

Footballer Lawrence Shankland was a close school friend and visited Chris’ mural at Glasgow’s Dockyard Social the day before the national team flew to Germany for the Euros. 

“If Chris was here now, he’d be our number one supporter and cheering us on,” said Lawrence. 

Lawrence Shankland visited mural paying tribute to friend Chris Murray, who died after a sudden cardiac arrest aged 22

“He was always a person who told you he was proud of you and that he loved you. He was a bit ahead of his time in that way and that’s something I look back on. It’s emotional seeing his face up there and I’m equally proud of him and what he has done to raise awareness. 

“Team Chris is his amazing group of supporters who have raised a lot of money in his name. When I read about the reasons behind the BHF campaign it was really shocking. It’s a hard-hitting slogan but that’s what you have to do to raise awareness.” 

Also featured is Jamie Skinner, from Edinburgh, who was just 13 years old when he passed away in 2013, having had a cardiac arrest on the pitch whilst playing in a match for Tynecastle Hearts Football Club. 

A talented footballer who was tipped to play football professionally, his sudden death shocked his family and wider community. 

The family were later told that Jamie had an enlarged heart, which may have contributed to his cardiac arrest. 

The mural is at The Pitt in Leith, Edinburgh.

“I still find it shocking,” says his father, George. “Jamie was a fit young sports mad boy and the last person you would ever think that this could ever happen to. But it is something that ten years after his death he is still raising awareness.”  

Sister Sonia added: “You think you have to be a certain age, overweight or unfit. But it’s any age, any fitness, male or female – it’s everybody.

“You don’t know what’s going on underneath someone’s skin.

“When Jamie passed, we thought ‘this isn’t right. We didn’t know he had an enlarged heart but if we knew at the time, we could have helped him.”

Each week, 12 young people under the age of 35 are lost to sudden cardiac death in the UK.

However, new research from the BHF reveals that the nation is largely unaware of the devastating effect heart disease has on young people.  

Almost a quarter (24%) of Scots surveyed don’t believe a heart condition can affect you if you are healthy and aged under 35. Those surveyed also severely underestimated the number of under 35s that die each week from sudden cardiac death, with most thinking it was three to four people – two thirds less than the shocking reality in the UK. 

Jamie Skinner's sister Sonia remembers talented young footballer

The BHF is making an urgent call for more funding into research to understand the causes, and find cures, for sudden cardiac death.

The nation’s biggest heart charity says more needs to be done to prevent the heartbreaking tragedies that strike 12 families every week in the UK. 

David McColgan, head of British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “Too many lives, like Chris’ and Jamie’s, 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.  

“As the nation celebrates the UEFA Euro 2024, these powerful murals serve as a reminder of the young football fans that have been snatched away by sudden cardiac death, and we want to thank the families who have kindly agreed to share their stories.   

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

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