Swift-Tees fundraise for life-saving kit

ONE of the region’s most popular venues just got a little safer thanks to some fleet-footed fundraisers.

A brand new life-saving defibrillator has been unveiled at Stewart Park following a charitable drive by some of the venue’s Parkrunners.

It’s a timely new addition as a similar machine saved the life of a Parkrunner in Nottinghamshire only last month, and the new kit will be available for use by any visitor to the Park.

Swift-tees runner and our own peer Rosanne Lightfoot got the ball rolling last year after reading an inquest report which brought to mind the sudden death from cardiac arrest of one of her son’s friends.

The Defib Fund was born, and in early December Swift-tees took over all the roles at the Stewart Parkrun in a fundraising drive that netted nearly £500.

Former Boro star Gary Gill provided a signed Boro shirt to raffle with a further £400 raised at the group’s Christmas party.

In just a few weeks the fund had topped £1,700 – enough to buy a first defibrillator and start the drive for a second machine.

The group now have their sights set on a defibrillator at the Habinteg Community Centre in Hemlington, another area popular with runners, walkers and footballers.

The Stewart Park machine was officially launched outside the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum by Gary Gill, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop and Friends of Stewart Park Chairman Tom Mawston.

The trio were joined by members of Swift-tees and fellow runners from local clubs including NYMAC, New Marske Harriers and Marsh House Harriers who all helped in the fundraising effort.

The new device is housed in a vandal-proof cabinet fitted with a combination lock with the code only issued when a 999 call is placed to North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

NEAS has also held the first of a number of defibrillator and CPR training sessions for regular park users and Askham Bryan College staff based in the Park.

Rosanne said: “Cardiac arrest can strike anyone with an undetected heart condition, and a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death.

“That was clearly demonstrated when a machine that had only been in place for two weeks saved the life of Parkrunner in Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire last month.

“We wanted to raise awareness of the need for defibrillators at public places like Stewart Park, not just for the runners but for all users from dog walkers and children in the playground to people visiting the Farmers’ market.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the fundraising drive, and I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed – they may just have helped to save a life.”

Councillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The Parkrun at Stewart Park is a hugely popular event and has played a key role in our objective of making more people more active.

“Unfortunately from time to time medical emergencies do arise, and that’s when equipment like this comes into its own.

“Congratulations to Swift-tees for a fantastic fundraising effort, and I’m delighted that they’ve chosen to continue supporting such a great cause.”

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