Wales’ leading heart charity is funding free heart screening in honour of a young marathon runner who died whilst running last year’s Cardiff Half Marathon.

The Ben McDonald Heart Screening Fund was established following the death of Ben McDonald at the Cardiff Half Marathon finish line in 2018 after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

The fund has been set up in his memory to offer free heart screening to members of the public aged between 8 and 45 in a bid to reduce the hundreds of deaths every year caused by undiagnosed heart conditions.

On August 31 Welsh Hearts officially launched the Ben McDonald Heart Screening Fund in Cardiff.

Members of the public will attend the sold-out screening and receive a screening of their heart to determine any defects they may not be aware of. IGP will provide equipment and the facilities for the heart screening to take place whilst Welsh Hearts will fund the initiative.

The charity will be holding many screening days in the build up to the Cardiff half marathon and urge everyone, especially athletes and sportspeople to get screened.

When discussing the event, Sharon Owen from Welsh Hearts said: “I’m over the moon with how popular the screening has been and how many people have come to see us.

"Hundreds die every year unnecessarily due to undetected heart defects and we’re determined to significantly reduce this number and our heart screening sessions are just one step towards achieving that mission.

"Ultimately, we want to see the Welsh Government fund these lifesaving tests so that more lives can be saved.”

Welsh Hearts launched a petition back in January, calling on the Welsh Government to make heart screening free and available for 10-35 year olds in Wales but until the government pledges to support the initiative, the charity is aiming to raise £1 million with its ‘Have a Heart’ campaign to be able to continue to offer this service and reduce the number of young people who die from heart conditions that could be managed.

Ben McDonald’s mum, Ruth McDonald said: “To be able to carry on Ben’s memory with such an important cause is fantastic and really means a lot to his family and friends.

"Losing someone close is an incredibly difficult thing to go through but it’s comforting to know that it has helped start an initiative to save so many lives and save other families from having to go through the same thing.”

Welsh Hearts said: “We are delighted to be able to facilitate the screening for such an important cause. It’s vital we do what we can to help detect heart defects amongst those who otherwise may have not been made aware they had one, and therefore we could potentially save hundreds of lives.”

Welsh Hearts will also be holding a special screening day for Ben on the 5th October the day before the Cardiff Half Marathon at his old school St Cyres School in Penarth.

Sharon Owen, founder of Welsh Hearts will be supporting Ruth McDonald, Ben’s mum, as they walk the Cardiff Half Marathon 2019 together in Ben’s memory.

Welsh Hearts is a charity based in Cardiff and established in 2013 by Sharon Owen.

Their mission is to provide public access defibrillators in Wales, to provide free defibrillator and CPR training to the Welsh public, and to screen Welsh hearts for heart conditions that would otherwise go undetected.

Heart screening appointments can be made through the Welsh Hearts Charity website at

To donate to Welsh Hearts, you can visit or alternatively, you can text BENSCREENING to 70085 to donate £5.