Childhood friend sparks donation for heart appeal

2:32pm Wednesday 9th April 2014

A KIND-hearted 95-year-old woman donated £100 from her savings to Jack’s Appeal, not knowing she was a childhood friend of Jack Thomas’ great grandmother.

Cassie O’Hehir, who lives independently at Bishpool Gardens in Newport, said she did not realise Jack was the great grandson of her Oakdale neighbour, Minnie Biggs, until the family contacted her.

Two years ago, 15-year-old Taekwondo star Jack, from Oakdale, died suddenly of a suspected heart problem while at his girlfriend’s house in Newbridge.

Jack, who stood at a towering 6ft 3in, had no previous health issues and was competing towards the European Championships at the time of his tragic death. Ms Biggs died a few months before Jack was born.

The Argus has since teamed up with his parents, Grant and June Thomas, to try and get heart defibrillators, which cost around £1,000 each, into every secondary school across Gwent and the Rhymney Valley. Three schools are to be provided with defibrillators in the coming weeks.

Ms O’Hehir, who lost her youngest son 12 months ago, said: “I saw it in the Argus and I noticed that the boy was from Oakdale.

Ms O’Hehir then sent £100 to Jack’s parents, who in turn contacted Ms O’Hehir after discovering Mr Thomas’ grandmother, Ms Biggs, was a neighbour of Ms O’Hehir during their time growing up in Oakdale.

She added: “I didn’t realise at first, but I used to play with Minnie out in the garden all the time until we moved away.”

Tickets for the The King and Queen of Hearts Summer Ball on June 7 at 7pm are £45 each.

To book tickets to the Summer Ball contact Welsh Hearts Fundraising Office on 02920 786521 or email

To make a donation send cheques made payable to Welsh Hearts charity, either to its headquarters at Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA, or to Newsdesk, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN. Please write ‘Jack Thomas defibs appeal’ on the back of the envelope.


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