It started with a First Aid course; became a fundraising campaign amongst local businesses and last week it ended with the unveiling of the town centre’s first public defibrillator.
The campaign was led by the Revd Simon Crook, assistant curate at Huddersfield Parish Church who realised that there were no public defibrillators in the town centre while on a First Aid course run by Lionel Green, a member of the congregation.
Said Simon: “ We got to the bit on Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) and realised that there were no public ones in the town centre though some businesses would have them.
“The advice is that people should be within five minutes of one, especially in places like a town centre, and they really do save lives: whereas CPR keeps someone going until an ambulance gets there, a defibrillator gets the heart beating properly by itself again,” he said.
So Simon started to raise funds simply by walking around the local businesses and asking for donations.
He said: “It has been the easiest fund-raising effort I've ever done. Shops and businesses and individuals gave from £10 to over £1000. In the end, I had to turn away potential donors as we had sufficient funds to buy, install and maintain the defibrillator for some years.”
It was wired for free by their regular church electrician –the next hurdle was its position. Defibrillators are given a special dispensation from Faculty by the Chancellor if the church architect approves of the siting and there is a reasonable case forward. Given the historic nature of the Parish Church’s Grade 2* listed building and the hi-visibility nature of the defibrillator cabinet, and its need for electrical power, this took some negotiation – but - eventually a site was agreed that was visible from the direction of the town centre, accessible without steps, and not overly obtrusive.
And during Holy Week, civic leaders, local businesses and the Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs gathered together for the official unveiling of the town’s first pubic defibrillator. It is available for the community 24/7 via the 999 emergency call desk who then provide the code to open the cabinet to gain access to the defibrillator.
Pictured here is Simon with our Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Nick who got a sneak preview of the new life saver when he was in town giving a Lent talk organised by the Parish Church and Huddersfield University.
Said Simon: “This project clearly united the local community around the church, and drew together some very diverse businesses.
“There was an obvious need and much interest from people, all it took was for the church to draw people together, get things started and coordinate the project.
“Given the interest here in Huddersfield town centre, I would urge anyone else in an area without a public defibrillator to start raising money for one - you might be surprised how quickly it comes in,’ he added.
Donors: Zephyr, Principle Uniforms, Something Wicked, A1 Stationery Stores, Huddersfield Hi-Fi, The Parish Pump, Central Lodge, Alice in Groomingland, The Keys
Abbey Locksmiths; Merry England; U3A Christmas Concert Collection plus a very generous donation from Nationwide Building Society, thanks to Ross Tennant for organising. And some private donors.