A lasting legacy is to be created to a popular teacher who died aged just 23 from an undetected heart condition.
Richard Waight’s name is to live on in the form of defibrillators that are to be handed out to schools across Doncaster after his parents helped raise £25,000 to buy the life-saving pieces of equipment.
Ridgewood, Town Field Primary and Bentley High Street schools all have defibrillators as a result of the campaign and Balby Carr Academy is set to receive the equipment which can administer an electric shock to re-start the heart shortly.
Richard died from Sudden Arrythmia Death Syndrome (SADS). His parents Ken and Jackie Waight have teamed up with the charity SADS UK for the project which the Free Press is backing. Ken, a former civil servant, is now encouraging any school in Doncaster which would like to receive the equipment to contact him.
He said: “Richard was a warm and caring person who, if someone needed something, wanted to be the person to help them out.
“He was a member of the junior rotary club and was always fundraising himself.
“The important thing is to raise awareness of SADS and keep that subject out there.
“I’m sure if Richard was here now he’d be proud of what I’ve been able to do, and would be overwhelmed by how much has been raised in his name.”
Richard, a newly qualified chemistry teacher at Hayfield School died in his sleep in November 2009.
Ken and Jackie, both 60, of Boat Lane, Sprotbrough, have helped fundraise for charities including SADS UK and Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
Ken said campaigning to raise money for the equipment that could have saved his son’s life is what helps to ‘keep him going’.
“SADS can affect people aged between 13 and 35 and so if you can make people aware of that fact, and put defibrillators in places where it could save someone’s life then it helps to put together another piece of the jigsaw,” he added.
Ken also says he still sees his son’s former pupils paying tribute to him on social media.
He added: “It’s amazing to think he still means so much to his pupils, we couldn’t believe it at the time and it’s even more amazing now. It just shows the imprint he left on people. It’s overwhelming.”
SADS UK works to create awareness of the condition and donates defibrillators to schools and sports centres nationally.
Anne Jolly, founder of SADS UK said: “We are delighted that Ken and Jackie are supporting the SADS UK Big Shock Campaign to get defibrillators into all schools.”
Richard was a keen golfer and during his time at Hayfield Academy he helped to raise money to fund golf lessons for pupils.
Part of the money raised by Ken, in part through annual golf fun days, has also gone towards continuing to help provide pupils with lessons for the sport.
Ken is currently organising next year’s golf day, which is due to take place on May 15.