Fern Davies

On 20th February 2018, Ian Williams (or Saffa to most of us at Swansea University) collapsed and could not be resuscitated. Ian was a talented tight-head prop, fulfilling his dream by pursuing a professional rugby career with Doncaster Knights. He was a gentle giant and during the time that we shared with him at Swansea, was adored and well respected. However, whilst Ian is now absent in person, he is not in spirit and it is through the vision of The Ian Williams Foundation that I want to contribute. On September 15th 2019 I will be taking on Ironman Wales 2019 to raise money in his memory and to ‘Safeguard the Heart of Sport’. His foundation was established to create an impactful vehicle for change through SEE:

SCREEN

Campaigning to introduce cardiac screening as a standard for 16+ and available at all levels within sport (specifically rugby), working with established charities such as Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

ENCOURAGE

To support open conversations amongst athletes and destigmatize mental health issues in order to improve the mental health and wellbeing of athletes.

ENABLE

Opening the doors to sport for those less fortunate than us, regardless of background.

My main motivation for this challenge is to contribute to a lasting legacy for Ian, although the vision to ‘Safeguard the Heart of Sport’ is one that I can personally associate with. As an ex GB swimmer I was screened at the age of 16 before a trip to India, detecting cardiac abnormalities. Whilst these were not life threatening, I was monitored closely by a cardiologist and had I not been in the fortunate position to access screening, would have not received the relevant support. This begs the question as to why screening isn’t more accessible as a standard at the grass root level of sport, particularly considering that each week, at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions in the UK.

With a younger sister who is a professional rugby player for England, my own experience of cardiac abnormalities and most importantly, to continue an impactful legacy for Ian, I hope that you can recognise the significance of this cause and show support in any way possible.

Fern Davies