Daniel Bagshaw

Dan and I were trainee solicitors in the same intake and had always got on well socially, but didn’t get to really know each other until the beginning of 2011, when we, along with a number of our colleagues, went on a 6-month work secondment to Hong Kong. After a few weeks in Hong Kong, it became clear that Dan and I shared a lot in common and were almost eerily like-minded. We soon became very close friends and would finish each others’ sentences and pre-empt each others’ emails on a daily basis – we even joked that we could be twins, separated at birth (although luckily we shared absolutely no physical resemblance and I fully admit that he was far sharper and more intelligent than I could ever have dreamt of being!). In particular, we shared a love of sports and the outdoors. At weekends, whist our friends would be sleeping off their hangovers from the night before, we’d be out dragon boating or hiking along one of Hong Kong’s famous trails. Alas, we inevitably realised somewhere along the way that our relationship was not purely platonic. When it was coming towards the end of our 6-month secondment, Dan had arranged to stay on in Hong Kong for another 2 years whilst I was due to return to London. It was then that we both realised that neither of us could stand the thought of being apart, in fact, completely subconsciously and unbeknownst to the other person, we had both come to the conclusion that we were, in fact, soulmates and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. So we started plotting my return to Hong Kong. Thankfully, my firm were extremely flexible and allowed me to return just 5 months later – during which time we spoke on Skype every single day.

On my return, everything slotted into place perfectly and we couldn’t have been happier – we had a cosy but perfectly formed flat in Sheung Wan (which Dan had proudly kitted out in my absence), good jobs, great friends and most importantly, each other. We often acknowledged just how lucky we were to have found each other and would sometimes privately joke that our smug happiness must have been sickening to other people around us. We would both also frequently concede that the relationship we had must have been very unique - we worked, exercised, socialised and, of course, lived together and not once did we ever get fed up with the other’s company. We were quite simply soulmates, merrily making our way through life’s journey, looking forward to the ultimate milestones: a first home (preferably 2 bed with period features in North London), a dog called Brian, an English Country wedding, 3 kids and a national trust family membership – with frequent sporting challenges and adventures along the way, to keep things exciting. I had never been more certain of anything than the fact I wanted to spend every day of the rest of my life with this incredible, highly intelligent, warm and loving man.

On 14 October 2012, Dan and I, along with a number of friends, competed in the Hong Kong International Triathlon, him in the men’s Olympic distance, and me in the women’s sprint distance. The conditions were perfect that day, sunny, but not too hot and everyone was in good spirits. I was very pleased to finish top of my category and couldn’t wait to celebrate with Dan who I knew would have done equally well. On seeing Dan running towards the line, I started cheering and clapping, but something wasn’t right, he didn’t acknowledge the cheers and then just centimetres before the finish line, he collapsed, never to regain consciousness. Dan’s life was tragically cut short at the age of just 27.

In the immediate aftermath I was of course in shock and had no idea how to cope – words cannot describe the enormity of the loss. My parents and Dan’s two older brothers immediately flew out to Hong Kong and the next week passed in a complete blur, each day seeming to last a lifetime. Looking back now, I’m not sure quite how I managed to keep going – I couldn’t eat, sleep, smile or concentrate on anything but with the help and support of my wonderful friends, family and colleagues, we managed to get things sorted and return to the UK to be with the rest of Dan’s family and friends. After the initial shock began to subside, day by day I gradually began to get my strength back and was able to focus on certain things, including trying to understand what had happened to Dan, something which was hugely important, as we had had no warning and there had been no signs that Dan was even ill – he was in fact an extremely healthy and active young man. All the initial tests carried out on Dan’s heart came back inconclusive and ultimately, despite prolonged testing, no cause of death was ascertained – something which is not uncommon. Having done more research into SADS and spoken to several experts in the field in the UK, it became apparent that this was what Dan had suffered from. Whilst it did not make the loss any easier to deal with, it did help us to understand what had happened and provided some of the answers we had been looking for.

Seven months on and with an inordinate amount of help and support from my family and friends out here in Hong Kong and in the UK, whilst I still cry on a daily basis, I am well and truly back on my feet again and working towards some positive goals – including the epic challenge of cycling the final week of the Tour de France cycling event in July, one week ahead of the pros, in aid of the foundation we set up in Dan’s memory. A large portion of the money we raise for Dan’s foundation will be put back into charities such as SADS with the aim of educating the wider public on the risks of sudden cardiac death in the young and funding research into treatment methods. Despite numerous recent high profile cases, this syndrome continues to be widely overlooked and with hundreds of healthy young people like Dan dying unexpectedly each week, I feel strongly that general awareness must be increased and providing funding into advancing treatment methods is vital.

Julia, partner of Daniel





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