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Pupils in Basildon are set to benefit from a major, potentially life-saving campaign, as Woodlands Secondary School and Eastgate Shopping Centre join forces to place defibrillators in local schools.
The Borough of Basildon has ten secondary over forty primary schools. It’s a little known fact that twelve young people die each week from cardiac arrest in the UK, and of these each year some 270 will die at school, often either during or following physical exercise. However, the presence of defibrillators, which generate an electrical charge to help get a heart started again, can dramatically improve the chances of survival.
The new initiative, known as The Basildon Valentine Project will be officially launched at Eastgate on Friday February 14th, and is dedicated to the memory of Leonie Nice, who, aged just 12, tragically did not survive a cardiac arrest at Woodlands in 2012.
The launch will herald the start of a fund-raising week by pupils and the Centre as part of a rolling programme to provide Basildon schools not just with the defibrillators, but also the training necessary to use them. In doing so, The Basildon Valentine Project will therefore also be making both the defibrillators and trained operators accessible to others in the respective schools’ localities, should a need arise for them to be used.
Funds raised last year enabled Eastgate to purchase the first two defibrillators which were officially handed over to Woodlands at 12 noon on February 14th by Centre Manager Ian Clark for positioning at the school. Prior to that, however, members of the teaching staff and senior pupils will have undergone comprehensive tuition in their use from Lee Riches, Eastgate’s trained first responder and winner of the Heart Safe Trainer of the Year Award 2013. More defibrillators and training will then be made available to other schools via Woodlands as the funds build.
Woodlands deputy head Jayne Dear said: “The Basildon Valentine Project is a wonderful initiative that will unite Basildon as a town and a community behind a very worthwhile cause.
“Woodlands School is acutely aware that having such equipment and training here is essential for our 1,500 or so pupils and our 200 plus staff. We are all behind this project which will inspire confidence that, in the unlikely event of a cardiac arrest at the school, there are defibrillators and trained operators available to help save lives.”
Eastgate Centre Manager Ian Clark said: “Eastgate has been supporting the placement of defibrillators in Basildon Town Square for some years as part of our community programme. The Basildon Valentine Project will now also get our total commitment going forward.
“We are delighted to have become a partner of Woodlands, which is bang on our doorstep, to address a genuine need, and we jointly aim to allocate as many defibrillators as possible to Basildon schools within the shortest possible time.”