AN initiative to raise awareness of cardiac health will be taking place ahead of the replay of AFC Bournemouth’s match with Luton Town today. 

The first game in December was abandoned after 59 minutes, after Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest.

The Cherries Trust and Talking Cherries, both supporter organisations, have been working with Hannah Powis, supporter liaison officer at AFC Bournemouth, in a joint project to use the rearranged match to raise awareness of cardiac health.

This will be the matchday theme, with a number of different initiatives taking place around the Vitality Stadium on the day.

The first phase of the project saw the Cherries Trust and Talking Cherries raising money to fund the Luton supporter coaches for the game, raising £2,230.

The Cherries Trust said it had also received another £1,000 direct to the trust, meaning the funds can pay for all the officially organised coaches, with any leftover money going to the British Heart Foundation.

Bournemouth Echo: Delay in Cherries v Luton

The club, along with both supporter organisations, recognised the match will be a difficult time for fans, players, staff and the referee teams.

As such, the club has arranged three locations around the ground where mental health first aiders from Talking Cherries will be stationed.

These will be in Bar One for home supporters, the DC Lounge for home and away disabled fans and a gazebo near the away end for all supporters.

Also involved in the initiative is Bournemouth Heart Club, which works for the prevention of sickness of people with or at risk of heart disease, or those who have undergone cardiac intervention.

Representatives from the club, which is based at its own facility at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, will be at the stations to give information and advice on cardiac health and the services it offers.

The club’s chief operations officer, Olivia Bailey, is a part time physio with AFC Bournemouth and she will be with a team of instructors to answer any questions that fans have about heart health and fitness.

Bournemouth Echo: Olivia Bailey is operations manager of the Bournemouth Heart Club.

Lockyer himself will be presented pitchside before the game, along with the same paramedic team and matchday referee, Simon Hooper, from the original fixture. 

In an interview for the matchday programme, he said: “I just want to give them a massive thank you and I can’t wait to see them in person and thank them myself.

"They almost go under the radar with being at every football game you ever go to, but you don’t really see them until something serious happens and you actually need them.

"That’s when you see what incredible human beings they are. They deliver such swift and fast life-saving care to the people who need it, so I honestly can’t thank them enough.

"To be able to look them in the eyes and shake their hands will be a great moment.”

Luton fans have organised a minute’s applause on the 59th minute, to thank all the medical staff who worked tirelessly in the first game.

The Hatters Supporter’s Trust has been involved in the initiative, arranging a donation to the British Heart Foundation.

One Luton fan, Mark Crowther, is cycling to every away ground this season and is set to ride the 124 miles between the grounds to raise funds for the charity.

Les Miller, treasurer of the Luton Trust, said: “Its going to be a difficult night, in terms of the emotion for a lot of people after what happened last time.

“I think its good that that mental health facility they’ve got is going to be there if anybody feels they’re struggling when they get there.

“From a point of view of encouraging people to learn about CPR, its something that Tom Lockyer has been encouraging people, spend 15 minutes on the British Heart Foundation website and you could save someone’s life.”

All proceeds from the game's Cherries Community Draw will go to the Bournemouth Heart Club and the British Heart Foundation charities.