Hundreds of pupils learned about the risks of hidden heart conditions, similar to the one that claimed the life of a 24-year-old footballer.

The Daniel Wilkinson Foundation and charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (Cry) visited Plume Academy in Maldon to offer cardiac screenings to almost 90 people aged from 14 to 35 years old.

The screenings were searching for any potential heart defects.

After the event, four were asked to have another screening in a year’s time, and four more were referred for further testing.

The Daniel Wilkinson Foundation was launched after the 24-year-old’s sudden and tragic death in 2016.

Helen Wilkinson, Daniel’s sister and a staff member at Plume Academy, said: “Dan had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, an inherited condition that causes the replacement of cardiac muscle with fibrous, fatty tissue.

“It causes the walls in the heart chamber to become thin and stretched, impacting how the blood is pumped around the body and causing abnormal heart rhythms which can lead to sudden cardiac death.

“He was playing for a team called Shaw Lane, during a Northern Premier League Division One South game at Brighouse Town.”

Helen believes the condition Daniel died of was the same that former Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered from when he collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane during an FA Cup quarter final against Tottenham Hotspur in 2012.

Helen and a friend of Daniel’s set up the foundation in his name just weeks after his death.

She feels it is important that awareness of underlying heart conditions is raised among children as early as possible.

Helen said: “I am very open about talking to the students about Daniel, but still I don’t think it always sinks in for them.

“They are young and believe it won’t happen to them.

“Something like this is also quite scary and something they maybe don’t want to think of.

“A few weeks before the screening, I spoke specifically to our football college boys and the Year 11s that are planning on going into the football college.

“Even though a lot of them knew me and had heard of what had happened, it was a big reality check for them to realise it isn’t always the case that the fitter you are, the healthier you are.”

Helen said Daniel’s fitness actually caused more damage to his heart.

The Daniel Wilkinson Foundation has already played a major role in saving the life of a young child.

A football club the foundation sponsored got in touch after a defibrillator it had donated had helped save the life of a 14-year-old boy.

Helen said: “We expected this would be in the next 10 to 15 years – never in the first 18 months.

“I suppose it actually shows how often these tragedies can happen and why it is so important to have access to defibrillators in such cases.”

To find out more about the Daniel Wilkinson Foundation, go to