Kind community helps bring Uppermill defibrillator closer to reality

A NEW life-saving defibrillator in Uppermill is one beat closer to becoming a reality thanks to generous donations from the community.

Audrey and Graham Lee outside Ebenezer Church

And Audrey Lee, who was inspired to get the defibrillator in place after her husband suffered a cardiac arrest, has received a CPR Hero award from the British Heart Foundation.

Last April, Graham, 72, suffered a cardiac arrest at home and Audrey, unable to access a nearby defibrillator, performed CPR for 12-and-a-half minutes before an ambulance arrived.

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

He was treated at the Royal Oldham and Withington Hospitals, spending seven days in intensive care, and remarkably made a full recovery.

Audrey’s actions have earned her a CPR Hero award from the British Heart Foundation, which she will receive in London in September.

Graham explained: “We got a phone call from the British Heart Foundation and they said Audrey has won the award. They will send us more details in June.

“All we know is she has won it for going above and beyond by doing CPR for 12-and-a-half minutes and it will be presented in London in September

“It is not something you are nominated for it, it’s something you earn – and she definitely did!”

Determined to help people encountering a similar situation, Audrey, 63, and Graham set about raising £1,500 to install a new defibrillator in the centre of busy Uppermill.

The machine will be installed in a yellow box on Ebenezer Congregational Church, where Audrey is minister, so it can be accessed by anyone with the code from a 999 operator, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Money has been raised by the church’s charity giving scheme, their Film and Food night, and by donations.

They have added more than £400 to the pot thanks to a fundraising Affairs Of The Heart concert by the talented group Entertaining Friends.

The couple has been helped in their quest by Catherine Johnstone, who runs Saddleworth Physiotherapy Clinic on Uppermill High Street.

She has helped to secure a grant of £600 from British Heart Foundation towards the cost of the defibrillator.

She added: “We are currently only about £300 shy of our target and we would really love local businesses especially those on the high street, to contribute an amount, no matter how small, to help us reach our target.”

Graham added: “The community has been very supportive and generous. We’ve even had money come in from America, Malta and Germany!

“If there’s any extra funds we’ll put it on one side for maintenance and we are even looking into getting another defibrillator to put in one of the villages.

“If it were up to be there would be a defibrillator on every building in Saddleworth but I know that’s not possible!

“We have met all the criteria now and are just waiting for British Heart Foundation’s next steps. We are hoping it will all be sorted by Easter. The sooner it is there, the better.”

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

Ebenezer Church Hall will host upcoming sessions, with the next one on Wednesday, March 6 at 7pm. All are welcome to attend, including children, and just turn up on the night.

Catherine said: “The more people we have who are competent and confident in these life-saving skills, the better the survival rates in our community.”

To donate, visit the Facebook page before the end of February.

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