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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Charlotte Hadfield

Dad creates lasting legacy after 'one in a million' son died suddenly at school

A dad whose son died suddenly of a hidden heart condition has created a lasting legacy in time for his 24th birthday.

Oliver King was just 12 years old when he died of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) during a swimming race at King David High School in Childwall. Since his death in March 2011, Oliver's dad, Mark King and The Oliver King Foundation (The OK Foundation), have campaigned tirelessly to get the government to place defibrillators into every school in the hope no other child will die in the same way.

The ECHO visited King David High School today where the first defibrillator was placed in what was described as a landmark day. The life saving equipment will now be rolled out into every state school across the country by the end of this academic year.

READ MORE: Once a great hope, Liverpool's Chinatown is at a dead end

Mark told the ECHO: "He was special to us Oliver, as he was to all of his friends in the school. He never let us down in the short time that he was with us and I won't let him down in this. This is why we campaign tirelessly.

"It's an emotional day and I couldn't have planned this any better because the first defibrillator has been fitted in the King David this morning and it's his 24th birthday tomorrow, so it's all come around as one.

"We normally do something that he liked to do on his birthday."

Oliver King's dad Mark and Jamie Carragher with the new defibrillator at King David High School in Childwall (Liverpool Echo)

Paying tribute to Oliver, Mark said: "He was fit, healthy, athletic. He was a natural sportsman. He could turn his hand to anything.

"He was football mad but he was fit. He used to say to me 'dad let's go for a run' and I couldn't keep up with him. I used to have to get my bike out and he was gone.

"What sticks in my mind is he loved fish and chips on a Friday night and he also loved Coronation Street. So when Coronation Street used to start, I used to go 'come on let's go the chippy' - and he'd look at the telly and he'd look at me, but ultimately he'd come with me."

Research shows that accessing a defibrillator within three to five minutes of a cardiac arrest increases the chance of survival by over 40%. Mark said the roll out of defibrillators in state schools is "just the start", adding: "as I've said from day one, wherever you see a fire extinguisher a defibrillator should be above it."

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, who has supported The OK Foundation with its campaigns, visited King David High School today to see the first defibrillator installed.

Oliver King's friends Tegan Grugel and Rubi Deschamps with Jamie Carragher and Oliver's dad Mark with the new defibrillator at King David High School in Childwall (Liverpool Echo)

Jamie told the ECHO: "We lose so many kids every year to tragically what happened to young Ollie. We can't allow that to happen.

"It shouldn't need what happened to Oliver, and Mark over the last ten years to push this through, but it is a day to celebrate for The Oliver King Foundation and the work that they've put in."

Oliver's schoolfriends Rubi Deschamps, 24, and Tegan Grugel, 23, also visited the school today to show their support for The OK Foundation.

Sharing her memories of Oliver, Tegan said: "He was always friends with everyone. He was so competitive, he was always sporty.

"We speak about him as this sporty kid. The amount of photos I've got of me and him from when we were kids and it's just this big cheeky smile - he's always got this massive smile."

Rubi said: "He was the cheekiest kid ever. He literally was the one kid that every girl in the year fancied. I left the school a few years after Ollie died. It was just a lot, everyone in our year was just in turmoil."

"It's nice for us to see parts of him shining through his younger brother, Ben. You couldn't not like him.

"I know everyone says that about people who have passed away, or anything major that's happened to people, but honestly he was one in a million."


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