Paul Healey, chair of Craig’s Heartstrong Foundation, has received his British Empire Medal from Lady Philippa Lorimer, writes Sam Turton.

Arising from the tragic death of Craig Lunt, the work of Paul, Craig’s mum Paula and so many others has gone on to help thousands of islanders.

Craig, who was a talented footballer, died at the age of just 25 from an undiagnosed heart condition, Long QT syndrome, a disorder of the electrical system of the heart and one of a range of conditions that cause unexplained sudden death in a young person.

The charity provides free screenings to people aged 14 to 35 to detect any possible symptoms of Hypertrophic and Dilated Cardiomyopathy and thus help prevent Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS).

Originally providing heart screenings, which led to some defects being identified and corrected, the charity went on to provide defibrillators around the island, which have been used to save lives on our island.

Ever humble, even when receiving his BEM, Paul spoke of the work of Paula and the charity’s donors.

‘I’m pretty proud, I think given what has happened over the last couple of weeks especially, to be given this honour by the Queen makes it even more important. It’s a pretty prestigious award, which as a charity we’re really grateful for.

‘I don’t take this on my own, this is a lot of work with myself and Paula, Craig’s mum, that we’ve put in over the years. Craig’s family set the charity up back in 2005 and we’ve worked pretty tirelessly since to screen hearts over here, put out defibrillators, which both have saved lives, so we’re pretty proud of it and tonight is a thank you to family and friends, as well as everyone else, for their support over that time.’

In the weekend before Paul received his BEM the charity was holding screenings, with 363 people coming through the doors for the fully booked screenings, of those 11 were found to have defects which have been referred on to doctors.

Paul said: ‘It just highlights the importance of screening again.

‘At the very last screening we had back in April, there were only two or three detected. This time it was 11.

‘In previous years we’ve had up to 30-odd, so this is huge and, more importantly, those 11 people can go away, probably a little bit uncomfortable. But something has been found that may not have been found if they hadn’t come to our heart screening, so that can now be changed with medication or even just with giving up a certain sport or activity.

‘Those issues can range from very minor to life threatening conditions, so we’re just pretty happy to get them up and running again after Covid and the two-year break we had.’

While Paul wanted to speak only of the charity’s work, of Paula’s incredible work after losing her son, as well as the other people behind the scenes, he admitted that he does ‘after a glass of wine’ allow himself a moment to be proud of himself and that people can see what the charity does and where the money raised is going.

Thursday evening was also a bit special for Paul as he was able to have his children, who are too young for the annual dinner, come to see their dad collect his gong.

Before the event, he said: ‘We obviously have the annual dinners every year, my kids are both too young to attend those, so they have never heard me deliver a speech or anything like that, so tonight will be different for them, but I’m proud for them being here and my mum and dad and my sister and a lot of friends of family who have helped me over the years through some pretty tough times.

‘When Craig died, it was a tough time for us all, but the charity is there in his name and all we ever see is his name up in lights and that makes us pretty proud.’

During his speech after receiving his BEM, Paul thanked everyone who has supported the charity since its inception.

He said: ‘You’ve all been invited for specific reasons. A lot of you don’t know how much of an effect you’ve had on Craig’s Heartstrong Foundation over the years.

‘Not just financially, emotionally, but the support I’ve had from everybody in this room has been fantastic, my mum and dad, my wife and kids, they may not do that much at the heart screenings, but the little things that just help me to build such a big charity on the island, Les and Alex have been a major part of that, not only are you both now close friends of mine, but without your financial support, the charity wouldn’t been able to continue.

‘Paula, who unfortunately isn’t here tonight, has done so much work as well, after losing a child, no one should ever go through that, she still picks herself up and gets to the events and I’ve not done this alone, I’ve done it with your support, with Paula’s support and long may it continue.’

You can find out more about the work of Craig’s Heartstrong Foundation and keep an eye on when it will be doing more screenings on the island by going to

To see more photographs from the event at which Paul received his BEM, see this week’s Manx Independent.