Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

Oxford and Cambridge crews put rivalries aside to save lives

THE Oxford and Cambridge Gemini Boat Race 2024 crews have set aside rivalries to help the British Heart Foundation (BHF) save lives.  

Just days away from this year’s race the crews are united by one goal – to learn the lifesaving skill of CPR.  

Both the 2024 men’s and women’s Oxford and Cambridge rowing squads took time out of their intense training schedules to complete the BHF’s RevivR training ahead of the 78th Women’s Race and 169th Men’s Race taking place on Saturday 30th March. 

The crews are now urging the public to join them by learning CPR in just 15 minutes – using the BHF’s free online tool, RevivR. The tool means anyone can learn lifesaving CPR skills, anywhere, anytime – with just a mobile phone or tablet and a cushion.   

Earlier this month the British Heart Foundation was announced as the official charity partner for The Gemini Boat Race 2024.  

The partnership is particularly poignant as it follows the tragic death of former Chair of The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL), Tim Senior, who died of a cardiac arrest on 11 February 2023.  

Tim, who was appointed in April 2021, was uniquely placed as Chairman of The Boat Race having attended and rowed for both Oxford and Cambridge University.   

At 51 years old, Tim was still rowing for the Upper Thames Club and had been racing in an eight boat in 4’d and 8’s Head in Henley on the day he died.  

Talking about the tragic day, his wife of 24 years Sarah Senior said:

“The day it happened my daughter, Lottie, and I had flown to Canada to see my brother. As soon as we met him, I could see on his face that something was seriously wrong.  

“My son Max had taken a call from one of Tim’s teammates to say he’d collapsed. He then received another call from a paramedic and then the hospital where he received the devastating news that his father had died. Our poor son was the one who had to call everyone to tell them the shocking news.” 

The family later found out Tim had suffered a heart attack that triggered the cardiac arrest. 

Sarah said:

“Tim was given CPR as soon as possible and the paramedics were on the scene immediately. We are so grateful to everyone for their incredible efforts that day but sadly Tim died on the way to hospital and our lives changed forever.”  

It was later found that Tim had ischaemic heart disease and had reduced blood flow to the heart. He had an atheroma, where a fatty substance had come away from the artery wall and blocked the circulation to his heart, causing him to have a heart attack and subsequently a cardiac arrest.  

Talking about the partnership with the BHF, Sarah said:

“Tim never thought heart disease would be something that impacted him as he was such a fit man. But I know he’d be really proud of us helping to raise awareness now through his story.   

I think it’s so important to highlight the fact that heart and circulatory conditions can impact anyone at any time. So many people said to me that Tim was the last person you’d think would have a heart attack or cardiac arrest. It just goes to show how important it is to value every minute of life.” 

There are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK. Tragically, less than one in ten people survive, a statistic the BHF is determined to improve by giving everyone the opportunity to learn CPR with RevivR. 

Chair of the Board of BRCL, Siobhan Cassidy, said:

“Losing Tim so suddenly sent shockwaves throughout the rowing community. It’s heartwarming to see the two boat clubs put their intense rivalry aside in the lead-up to the race and unite in Tim’s memory with a shared goal; helping the British Heart Foundation save lives. 

“Together the BRCL and BHF want to create a lasting legacy by raising awareness of the risk of cardiovascular disease and improving the chances of survival among spectators of The Boat Race by encouraging them to learn CPR through the BHF’s RevivR app.”  

Taking part in team RevivR sessions for their respected boat clubs were Matt Edge from the 2024 Cambridge Men’s squad and Annie Sharp from the 2024 Oxford Women’s squad – who will both be competing on 30th March.  

Matt said:

“A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time, so both Oxford and Cambridge Rowing squads we want to encourage as many people as possible to learn CPR.” 

Annie said:

“The BHF RevivR tool is super interactive, useful and fun way to help learn CPR and be aware of how to react to save a life.” 

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“It’s incredible that the time it takes to complete the 4.25 miles of this famous championship course is roughly the same time it takes to learn CPR – and I’m sure that even crews would argue, that learning CPR is a lot less effort. 

“Every moment matters when someone has a cardiac arrest, and being able to step in and perform CPR could be the difference between life and death. And with 80 per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happening in the home, you’re most likely to have to perform CPR on a loved one. 

“We’re so grateful for the Oxford and Cambridge Rowing crews for encouraging the nation to become lifesavers. Taking just 15 minutes out of their busy training schedule really highlights how quick and easy it is to learn the lifesaving skill of CPR with RevivR.” 

To learn how to save a life, please visit: bhf.org.uk/revivr  or to take on your own rowing challenge and raise funds for the British Heart Foundation’s lifesaving research, please visit: bhf.org.uk/rowingchallenge.   

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