Heart of Steel: Daughter's poignant commemoration of her Bishop's Stortford dad killed by fourth cardiac arrest
Devoted daughter Michelle Acres waited in vain for dad Ronald Cole to call her after a routine hospital check-up – but the 74-year-old had suffered a fourth and fatal cardiac arrest.
The Bishop's Stortford man had been living with heart failure for 12 years when he died in June. Now Michelle has commemorated him on the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) Heart of Steel sculpture in Sheffield.
The charity is encouraging people all over the country to engrave a loved one's name on the monument and help raise money for its vital research.
Around 113,000 people in Hertfordshire are currently living with heart and circulatory diseases. Someone in the county dies from heart issues every three hours.
Michelle said: "I've chosen to engrave my late father's name on the Heart of Steel as a way to remember him whilst also helping the British Heart Foundation. My dad and I were best friends and I can't think of a more lovely way to help remember him by than this."
Ronald suffered his first three cardiac arrests in the space of just two weeks when he was 62. The fatal fourth came during a check-up appointment in hospital.
"Despite knowing he had heart failure, losing him during a check-up appointment was a huge shock," said Michelle. "He'd survived being intubated and being in the intensive care unit.
"I spoke to him on the phone as he went in and asked him to let me know what the results were when he came out. He never called me.
"At least I know he was in the best possible place during his cardiac arrest. If there was nothing the hospital could do, there's nothing anyone could have done."
After his first series of cardiac arrests, Ronald was fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). The small internal device, which shocks the heart should it start to go into arrest, was pioneered by BHF research into the development of pacemaker technology around 60 years ago and recently made headlines after being inserted in Euro 2020 Danish footballer Christian Eriksen after he suffered an arrest while playing for his country against Finland.
Michelle said: "The quality and length of my dad's life was greatly improved thanks to his medical treatment. The BHF fund so much important research into heart and circulatory diseases that I wanted to help in some way to mark my dad's legacy. The Heart of Steel seems the perfect way to do that."
Jodie Shepherd, fundraising manager at the BHF, said: "Stories like Michelle's are so moving and we're so grateful to her for picking the Heart of Steel as a way to remember her beloved dad.
"An engraving on the Heart of Steel is a heartfelt and unique way to remember someone special and raise vital funds for the BHF's research into heart and circulatory diseases."
The Heart of Steel has space for 150,000 names to be engraved on it. It is part of the wider Steel Man project, a landmark that will overlook Sheffield. The heart will eventually be part of the 23m (75ft) high Steel Man.
To engrave a name of a loved one on the Heart of Steel, visit www.bhf.org.uk/heartofsteel.