A WOKING woman is to take on a swimming challenge in memory of her husband who died from a cardiac arrest at the leisure centre.

Jamie Hunt, 44, collapsed after going to play badminton in February last year.

His widow Katie, 37, said: “It was like any other day. Jamie had gone out to play badminton at the local leisure centre that evening.

“Shortly after, I was at home when a neighbour came round to say they thought Jamie had suffered a heart attack. The police arrived and took me straight there.

 “When I arrived, Jamie had been unconscious for a long time already. The paramedics had to shock his heart eight times. Jamie was taken to hospital and they did a range of scans, but found that he’d suffered brain damage from the lack of oxygen. Two days later, he passed away.”

Katie, who works for HSBC, had been with Jamie for more than 18 years and married in 2011. The couple have two sons, Edward, seven, and Thomas, four.

She said: “I remember coming home to talk to the boys and to tell them that daddy was not coming home.

“It is not a conversation you ever want to have. I felt such a deep sadness for them that they weren’t going to grow up with their daddy.

“Meanwhile, I was trying to deal with the shock myself. The trauma of those days and losing Jamie so unexpectedly will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Since losing Jamie, Katie has found comfort in returning to swimming, an activity she hasn’t focused on in years. She has now challenged herself to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) by taking part in the 1.4-mile charity Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim.

Katie added: “Swimming is something positive I’ve taken up again since Jamie died. It’s been a source of therapy over the last year and whilst I used to swim when I was younger, since having our kids I’ve not had time to pursue it.

“Grief can really knock your motivation but taking up swimming again has helped me focus mentally.

“The Pier to Pier Swim has now given me a goal and inspired me to make the effort, find the time to get down to the pool and aim to raise funds for research into heart disease,” she added.

Jamie had a senior role in the technology department at a national newspaper and was a keen golfer. He had been born with a congenital heart defect that meant blood from his heart did not flow correctly to his lungs and body. At the age of 11, Jamie underwent surgery to correct the condition allowing him to lead a normal and active life.

The Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim is one of Europe’s biggest charity swimming events and will take place over the weekend of the 3 and 4 July. The event, which is marking its 30th anniversary this year, will include 4,000 people swimming from Bournemouth to Boscombe Pier.

Katie will be swimming with a friend, Amelia Lewis, and so far they have raised nearly £2,600.

A page on the “muchloved.com” site in tribute to Jamie last year raised just over £4,000 for BHF.

Lee Sumner, the charity’s events manager, said: “We’re incredibly grateful that Katie has chosen to take on this very personal challenge in aid of the BHF.

 “Our life-saving research is fuelled by the generous donations of the public, but the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means that our investment in new research could fall by £50 million this year.

 “That’s why we need the support of the public to back the BHF now, more than ever,” he added.