EX-WALES hooker Lloyd Burns, whose mother was saved by a heart defibrillator, has urged people to get together and fundraise for the Argus’ Jack Thomas appeal.

Burns, whose own career was cruelly cut short after suffering a ruptured artery in his neck, nearly lost his mother Katerene after she suffered a cardiac arrest seven years ago.

“My mother was basically saved by a defibrillator, hence the reason why I want to help as much as I can to get defibrillators into as many places as possible,” Burns said. After years as a semi-professional with Cross Keys, Burns broke into the Newport Gwent Dragons squad and then Wales, taking part in the 2011 World Cup, in a rags-to-riches story. But during a routine scrummaging session, his meteoric rise came to an abrupt halt after suffering the neck injury with tests revealing he himself might one day need heart surgery.

Further tests had discovered damage to the aorta – the largest artery in the body – meaning he had to quit with immediate effect in April 2012 at the age of 27. The seven-time capped Burns says he still finds it hard to watch Wales “like you wouldn’t believe”. Now 29, he coaches youngsters at Pontypool schools, and says he fully backs our campaign to get heart defibrillators into every secondary school in Gwent.

The Argus has teamed up with Grant and June Thomas for Jack’s Appeal, which is calling on people to donate or hold a fundraising event to raise the money to provide secondary schools in Gwent with a defibrillator.

Jack, a pupil at Oakdale comprehensive school, was just 15 years old when he died after suddenly falling ill while watching rugby on television – a couple of months before Burns was told he would not play rugby again. Anyone wishing to make a simple donation to Jack’s Appeal, or donate the proceeds of a fundraiser can send cheques made payable to Welsh Hearts charity, either to its headquarters at Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA, or Newsdesk, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN. Please mark ‘Jack Thomas defibs appeal’.