Olympic Torch

QEH Olympic Torch Bearer

Today QEH Old Boy, James Bailey, carried the Olympic Torch through Backwell to the applause of hundreds of well-wishers. The 20-year-old admits, “Carrying the Torch was a truly incredible honour, a once in a lifetime experience”.

While the countdown to this summer’s Olympics ticks away and the excitement continues to grow, James was amongst the 8000 Torch Bearers carrying the Olympic Flame across the country towards the opening ceremony.

Having completed his run he came straight into school, to the delight and amazement of the boys, bringing lessons to a standstill! Again, much to their delight ...

Above: James Bailey running with the Olympic Torch
Top left: QEH boys delighted to hold the Olympic Torch

James was selected to carry the Olympic Torch through Backwell Farleigh due to being diagnosed with a life threatening heart problem and because of his subsequent work for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Of course his story is highly topical coinciding with the tragic news regarding Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton midfielder who suffered a cardiac arrest during the FA Cup Quarter Final versus Tottenham Hotspur. Despite his young age and fit lifestyle it appears that Muamba is just one of many young people such as James who, while appearing healthy, have an undiagnosed cardiac abnormality. Unfortunately at least twelve young people die each week in the UK from such conditions and the majority of these deaths are preventable if diagnosed early enough.

Former QEH pupil James Bailey is one of the lucky ones because his heart abnormality was picked up at the school in its regular  cardiac screening clinic which is conducted in conjunction with CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). CRY is a charity whose mission is to raise awareness of undetected cardiac abnormalities in the young and they test individuals between the ages of 14-35. An ECG is carried out by trained technicians which is then read by a cardiologist on site; if any abnormality is seen then a further test (Echocardiogram) is performed.

James discovered he had the Sudden Adult Death syndrome Wolff-Parkinson-White. This came as a complete shock to James who played for the QEH Football 1st team and considered himself to be healthy. The unfortunate reality of what could have happened had he not had the ECG has hit home especially after Muamba’s tragic incident. James comments, “It was awful to see what happened to Fabrice Muamba, knowing I could have potentially found myself in a similar situation had I not been diagnosed by CRY – unfortunately for many people the first time they realise they have a problem, it is too late”.

Following his experience, James has helped to raise both funds and awareness for CRY, organising a Charity Auction at QEH and even making a speech at The House of Commons. He is hoping now that being a Torch Bearer can serve as another platform upon which he can promote the importance of CRY’s work – “Without CRY I may not still be alive, so I urge everyone to be tested. I’m living proof these screenings do work.”

QEH boasts a strong sporting pedigree with recent Old Boys currently starring prominently.  Rising football star Joe Bryan recently made his debut for Bristol City in their Championship fixture against Leicester City, and looks set to fight for a regular place in the first team after BCFC manager Derek McInnes was full of praise for the young star. This praise was replicated by QEH’s own football commentator and Deputy Headmaster Mr Steve Ryan, who says, “It was a privilege to witness his performance, full of skill, pace and most of all composure. He had time, the hall mark of a great player and he contributed to a rare and much needed victory.”

Elsewhere, Dino Zamparelli is rapidly rising through the ranks of Formula 1, whilst Jack Cuthbert was selected in the Scotland squad for their last Six Nations match. However, it is of course the wellbeing of these sporty QEH students which remains most important.

As such CRY returned to the school on the 2nd May 2012, where once again QEH boys had the opportunity to undergo an ECG. James says, “It is a small price to potentially save your life.”

For further details regarding CRY please visit www.c-r-y.org.uk

For Evening Post article click here