Tributes have been paid to a County Durham footballer by family and friends ahead of the two-year anniversary of his death.

Darren Scott, who was 40 at the time, suffered a cardiac arrest during a football match playing for his Newton Aycliffe team Cobblers Hall over 40s on February 12, 2022.

Despite the best efforts of emergency services and those present, Mr Scott passed away after collapsing on the side of the pitch.

In honour of his friend, Mark Preston, 50, launched the charity Missed a Beat to provide defibrillators and training to communities to help people in cardiac arrest.

The Northern Echo: Tributes have been paid to a Newton Aycliffe footballer by family and friends ahead of the two-year

His mother, Donna Harland, said seeing more defibrillators readily available means a lot to the family and that her son will live on in the hearts of those he knew.

She said: “I`m not good with words, Darren was always there to be my voice.

“I`m lost without him, and things will never be the same, we try and think about the good times and the joy that Darren brought to anyone who met him.”

Mr Scott leaves behind his wife Donna, who he married in October 2021 and his four children: Declan, Noah, Layna, and Archer.

He was sadly unable to meet his youngest son, Archer, as his wife only found out she was pregnant following his death.

The Northern Echo: Mark with Dragons Den star Sara Davies Credit: Mark Preston

Mr Preston said: “I still don’t think it’s quite set in yet, that Darren has gone – I speak to so many people that continue to share their memories of him that I still feel like he’s here.

“When I install or donate defibrillators, I always talk about Darren, and I get a sense that he is watching over with his smile thinking about the positive work the whole community does.

“Darren was an amazing man. Darren was a loyal friend and husband, devoted father, supportive coach, a genuinely great man who gave so much to so many."

The Just Giving fundraising page set up by Mr Preston, representing Cobblers Hall, to support Darren’s family had an initial target of £20,000 – it surpassed this by reaching £30,714.

Mr Preston’s foundation has funded or part-funded more than 20 community 24/7 defibrillators around Newton Aycliffe and the surrounding area – and more than 30 portable defibrillators.

The lifesaving pieces of equipment have been installed in Cobblers Hall, Greenfield School, Moore Lane Sports Club, Aycliffe Village Hall and many areas in town.

In a tribute to Mr Scott, one of his best men and lifelong friends, Stu Fawcett, said “I miss you geezer, I miss my wingman, you were always there through the highs and the lows, the good times and bad.

“I would give anything to have one final chat with you mate, always in my heart and thoughts.”

Mr Scott`s close friend Martin 'Channer' Palmer-Smails recalled his love for the outdoors, his dogs, being with his family and hanging out with his friends as some of the things he will be remembered for.

He said “Daz’s love for the outdoors, his dogs. Being with his family for a random walk and somewhere, camping with friends (Daz would always find excuse to bring out the cheese board and the Cherry brandy by the fire.)

"Daz`s biggest quality was the love he had for the whole of his family, anyone that knew Daz knows this was his biggest quality.

"Darren loved to party with his mates and would always be the first on the dancefloor with his magical dancing feet and his twirling hands. Giant of a man with the biggest heart and one of a kind."

Mr Preston has said the foundation have earmarked other areas of Newton Aycliffe and Aycliffe industrial estate to install defibrillators, and hope to work closely with more businesses to fit them.

He said he felt he had to work to prevent other tragedies like this after meeting with Sergio Petrucci from the Red Sky Foundation.

He has worked with David Sutton-Lloyd, who began a campaign many years ago to have defibrillators readily available around Newton Aycliffe, to achieve this goal.

Since that tragic event there has been so many fundraising events taking place in the community; Since Mr Scott’s death, his family, friends and famous faces have all raised money in his memory.

This includes charity matches organised by Mr Scott's wife, a cake sale, a evening with Peter Beardsley, a coast to coast bike ride, Blam Blam Fever Redcar, a singing charity event held by Aimee Howarth, Billy and many more.

The Northern Echo: Tributes have been paid to a Newton Aycliffe footballer by family and friends ahead of the two-year

A Missed a Beat spokesperson said: “We want to reach out to all sports teams not only football in the hope they will join forces with Missed a Beat where we can look to raise the vital funds needed to purchase the portable devices.

“We have been supported by so many people and clubs around Newton Aycliffe and have many events planned throughout the year.

“Eric Stapleton will be running the London Marathon, numerous runners in the Great North Run, Armitage and Wilson have picked Missed a Beat as their chosen charity and will be looking to organise netball and football events, sponsored walks/runs, Newton Aycliffe youth.”

Mr Preston said the charity is currently sported on Newton Aycliffe junior section match shirts, and he believes this will raise more awareness for the need to have readily available defibrillators.

He also added there are plans in place to give the team training on how to use the lifesaving equipment.

Cobblers Hall Over 40`s will be holding a minute’s applause in memory of Mr Scott before kicking off against Hilda Park at 11am at Sedgefield.

The Northern Echo: Tributes have been paid to a Newton Aycliffe footballer by family and friends ahead of the two-year

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The Northern Echo: Tributes have been paid to a Newton Aycliffe footballer by family and friends ahead of the two-year

He also thanked Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe for the opportunity to speak to his squad about the need for defibrillators.

He gave special thanks to Magpies midfielder Joe Willock who got the squad to sign a shirt which will be sold to raise money for more defibrillators.

He thanked Andy Shields EJS Electrical, Phillip Ph Sparks, Upex Electrical Distributors, AEL Electrical, Lacegold Electrical for their help installing the cabinets.

You can find the charity here.