Generous community helps to secure defibrillator for Uppermill

A NEW life-saving defibrillator is to be installed in Uppermill after generous locals dug deep into their pockets to help raise £2,000.

Audrey Lee, who is minister at Ebenezer Congregational Church, was inspired to get the defibrillator in place after her husband Graham suffered a cardiac arrest last April.

Unable to access a nearby defibrillator, Audrey performed CPR for 12-and-a-half minutes on Graham before an ambulance arrived.

He was given only a 0.08 per cent survival rate, which would have been significantly increased had he been treated with a defibrillator.

Remarkably, he made a full recovery after spending seven days in intensive care – motivating the couple to get a defibrillator installed locally to help others in a similar situation.

In January they launched a campaign to raise £600 for the defibrillator and another £500 for a box to house it in on the outside of the church, where it will be accessible 24/7.

And just a few months later, they had smashed their target and raised £2,000 thanks to the support from the local community.

Money was raised by the church’s charity giving scheme, a Film and Food night, a concert by Entertaining Friends, and donations from local councillors, individuals and businesses.

The couple was helped by Catherine Johnstone, of Saddleworth Physiotherapy Clinic on Uppermill High Street, who secured match funding of £600 from British Heart Foundation towards the cost of the defibrillator.

Audrey, 63, said: “We’ve had to jump through a lot of hoops along the way but we’re nearly there now. We’ve got the defibrillator and the box should be here in about for weeks.

“The whole community has been so generous. We never thought we’d raise the money so quickly – we were hoping to have done it in a year. We’re delighted!

“People have given me money in church and even as I walked down the street. One person even gave me their winter fuel allowance money!”

Any money remaining will go into a maintenance fund for the defibrillator, and possibly towards purchases another in the future.

A guardian will be assigned to regularly check the defibrillator is in working order and has not been damaged or vandalised.

Graham, 72, added: “People have been very generous and we’re so grateful to everyone. The British Heart Foundation have been very good too.

“And we would have been lost without Catherine. She’s been such a great help with all the research into the grants and the whole process.”

Catherine has also co-ordinated free community CPR and AED training sessions over the last two years, hosted by trainers from the North West Ambulance Service.

Along with the defibrillator, the church received a CPR and defibrillator training kit and Catherine is training as a North West Ambulance Service volunteer so she can give sessions herself.

She said: “It’s very exciting that we’ve got all this as it means we can offer CPR and defib training sessions for all ages. I think we’re unique in Saddleworth in having that.”

Meanwhile, Audrey’s life-saving actions for her husband have earned her a CPR Hero award from the British Heart Foundation, which she will receive in London on September 20.

The couple will travel down to the capital for the ceremony at the Globe Theatre where they will join esteemed guests, VIPs and other winners for the glamourous night.

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