A COUPLE who battled to save the life of their elderly neighbour have raised thousands of pounds in a bid to give others a better chance to live.
Despite their best efforts, Di Hall and Martin Koerner were unable to save their neighbour when she collapsed in Forestside in 2012.
The loss spurred the pair to set up a campaign raising funds for a community defibrillator in the village – a vital piece of equipment which could have saved her life.
Their initial plan was to raise £1,000 for one unit.
But such was their success in raising awareness, involving their local pub The Victoria Inn, fellow Forestside residents and those of nearby villages West Marden and Compton, that the final total exceeded £6,500.
Just six months after starting their fundraising and public awareness campaign, they have purchased four defibrillator units, with associated installation and training, which are in place across the three communities should another emergency occur.
Di said: “We have been blown away by the generosity of all the local villagers, very many of whom have donated money to help get this project off the ground.
“Every penny has been welcome and will be used to help protect our communities’ residents.
“We know that the ambulance service will take time to reach us due to our remoteness, so we have taken a big step in terms of self-sufficiency and helping to save lives.
“This is a massive achievement for an initiative started only six months ago and was only made possible through the outstanding generosity, support and commitment from our communities and parish councils.”
The ambulance service was so impressed with their efforts that they have donated a further three defibrillators to service the villages of Up Marden, Stoughton and Stanstead. The group is now in the process of training up to 50 local residents from the villages in how to use the machines.
Toby Morgan, landlord of The Victoria Inn where one of the defibrillators is now situated, said: “We were really inspired by Di and Martin’s story so got involved in the fundraising.
“We were blown away with the response from the locals and proud to support this very worthwhile cause.”
Research shows there are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year and the public access defibrillator is aimed at supplementing an emergency response by South Central Ambulance Service.
A defibrillator is a life-saving machine that gives the heart an electric shock in some cases of cardiac arrest.
When someone has a cardiac arrest, early defibrillation is essential to significantly increase the chance of survival from under 10 per cent to over 70 per cent. Familiarisation and training sessions are now being run for up to 50 local residents to teach them basic resuscitation techniques, along with finding out what the defibrillator does and discovering how easy it is to use, even for someone with little or no training.
Di added: “No-one should be scared of using a public access defibrillator – they are foolproof and so simple to use yet they are literally life savers.We now want as many local residents as possible to come along and see just how easy the defibrillator is to use.”