Friends set up day in honour of Hatfield Heath man David Sweeney
Friends of a Hatfield Heath man, who died after collapsing while out walking his dog last week, have organised a charity fun day in a moving tribute to celebrate his life.
David Sweeney, 29, of Cox Ley, suffered a cardiac arrest last Thursday (July 16) and was found by police in a field off Mill Lane in Hatfield Heath.
Mr Sweeney was treated at the scene by paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Trust and East Anglian Air Ambulance but later died after being taken to Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow.
The fundraising event will take place this Sunday (July 26) from 1pm-5pm at the Link Social Club in Harlow, and will feature a barbecue, music, stalls, games, a raffle and a small auction.
Kelly Bridges, 28, a close friend of Mr Sweeney, decided to organise the fun day along with other friends to honour his life.
Miss Bridges said: “He was a much loved guy and will be sorely missed. No-one can really believe what has happened, it has come as quite a shock to everyone.
“I started the Facebook group for the day with 130 people, but we now have over 700 members, which shows what a popular guy he was.
“I can’t believe how generous people have been with donations, and how many are going to turn out to back the event in his memory.”
Miss Bridges said that more than £2,500 has already been raised in an online campaign, and she is hoping to exceed £8,000 through fundraising at the event, which is open to the public.
The money raised from the day will be split between a memorial bench and three charities – The British Heart Foundation, the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance Trust and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Mr Sweeney’s sister, Caroline Griffin, 30, said she was moved by the work of her brother’s friends for the planned event. She added: “We are so amazed and grateful for everything they have done, and all the wonderful messages we have received on the Facebook group.
“It has been a great support to my mum and dad and I, to see how many people loved David.
“We’re overwhelmed by it. It’s an amazing tribute to David and something he would have loved.”
A football match, with Mr Sweeney’s friends wearing the kit of his favourite team, Tottenham Hotspur, will also take place on the day, and several runners are taking to the streets to run a sponsored half marathon.
Mr Sweeney, who was known as ‘the gentle giant’ to his friends, had a heart operation in March of this year and was fitted with a pacemaker.
Mrs Griffin said: “Despite his health problems, it was still such a shock to us. We’re devastated and still can’t quite believe it.”
Amie Charles, who set up the Go Fund Me donation page which raised more than £1,000 in fewer than 24 hours, said: “On July 16 the world stopped spinning for a moment and it will never be the same again.
“David Sweeney was taken away from us too soon and it is hard to understand why tragic things like this happen to such good people.
“The hole he left behind is too big to ever be filled but even though he is gone his memory will live on in all of us forever.
“Sweeney was a remarkable person with wonderful generosity and great positivity.”
Alice Mcgivney posted on the Sweeney’s Fundraiser Day Facebook page: “No matter how well anyone knew him, he was the nicest person.
“You couldn’t help but care for him. I bet he is up there looking down smiling at how much he was loved.”
Mum Sue Sweeney added: “Thank you to everyone.
“You all are truly amazing. David would have loved this. I don’t think he would have run a half marathon though.
“We can’t believe how everyone has pulled together in honour of David.”
He leaves behind mum Sue, dad Danny and sister Caroline.
Mr Sweeney’s funeral will be held at Pardon Wood Crematorium in Harlow on Friday, July 31, at 1.45pm. The service will be followed by a celebration of his life at the White Horse in Hatfield Heath.
INFORMATION: Anyone wishing to make a donation can visit www.gofundme.com/zq8cdc.