A POWERFUL mural dedicated to a North Belfast man who died suddenly ten years ago is set to be unveiled as part of a new campaign by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to raise awareness of sudden cardiac death.

The striking mural, which will be located on Linenhall Street, will depict popular barman and electrician Joseph Burns (23), from Whitewell Road who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at his parents’ home ten years ago in July 2014. 

Despite the best efforts of his family, the emergency services and hospital medical team, Joseph sadly died in the Mater Hospital later that day. 

Just 24 hours after his tragic death, his girlfriend Sinead discovered she was pregnant with their daughter Bella who is now nine-years-old.   

Joseph was fit, healthy and trained regularly at the gym. He was a keen boxer and enjoyed playing five-a-side football with his work mates from The Chester Bar. The young man’s family spent months not knowing how their son and brother died.  

“When Joseph died our family were absolutely devastated," explained Joseph’s sister Jeanette.

"He was the only boy in our family and everyone just loved him, he was so well known in North Belfast and after his death so many people contacted us to say what a gentleman he was. He made such a big impact on so many people. 

Joseph and sister Jeanette

Joseph and sister Jeanette

“We didn’t know what had caused his death and it was hard dealing with that because we didn’t have any answers.

"We were referred to the inherited cardiac conditions service in Belfast and after tests we discovered that my mum Una and I carry the faulty gene for Long QT syndrome, so it is very likely that is what Joseph died from.” 

Long QT syndrome causes an electrical disturbance to the heart and puts those affected at risk of having a dangerous heart rhythm. Some people experience no symptoms at all, but others may faint or collapse. In some cases, LQTS can cause sudden death.   
“Joseph was a typical 23-year-old, he never stopped," added Jeanette.

"He had a strong work ethic, he worked during the day as an electrician and then worked evenings in the bar. Joseph was really passionate about his work, planning that one day he would be his own boss and run his own business.  

“He enjoyed watching and playing football – taking part in five-a-side games with his work mates. 

“Joseph always had aspirations of having his own family. My sister was five months pregnant when he passed and he was so excited and making lots of plans for his little nephew. With him knowing his partner Sinead was possibly pregnant, he would have dreamt of being the best daddy in the world.”

Joseph Burns’ parents Una and Joe with Joseph’s daughter Bella

Joseph Burns’ parents Una and Joe with Joseph’s daughter Bella

“Ten years on and we miss Joseph as much as ever, and being involved in this BHF campaign will help celebrate his life and keep his memory alive. 

“The work the BHF is doing in raising awareness of sudden cardiac death in the young is so important. This will sadly happen again to other families, but as a family we have dedicated ourselves to raising money for BHF since Joseph’s death because we want to fund the research that will save lives.”  

Joseph’s mural is one of 12 that will be unveiled across the UK as part of the BHF campaign.

Each week, 12 young people under the age of 35 are lost to sudden cardiac death in the UK.