A CHARITY is on course to boost the safety of golfers across the Lothians by offering to donate defibrillators to clubs hosting national championships.
First aid charity St John’s Scotland will splash out on heartstart machines for 21 venues hosting Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association national (SLGA) events over the next three years.
These include the Royal Burgess Golfing Society, in Edinburgh, and East Lothian venues Muirfield Golf Club, Dunbar Golf Club and Longniddry Golf Club.
Neighbouring clubs will also be able to buy a defibrillator for half the normal price and attend the training.
The news has been welcomed by the family of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner, who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while making his debut for Tynecastle FC in December 2013.
His family joined forces with the Evening News in July to launch the Shockingly Easy campaign, which has so far raised enough to buy 18 defibrillators for sports clubs across the Lothians.
Sir Malcolm Ross, Prior of St John’s Scotland, said: “Scotland’s golfing community is one of our most vibrant, but the course or the club can feel like a very isolated place to anyone who suffers a heart attack. Defibrillators will save lives and we are very proud to be working with the Scottish Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association to supply the equipment and the training which will make all the difference until the medics or paramedics can take over.”
The golfing community was spurred into action when former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher collapsed during a dinner at an Aberdeen hotel in 2013. Gallacher had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and it was only thanks to the hotel’s defibrillator and the immediate action of trained staff that he survived, before going on to make a full recovery.
Hamish Grey, chief executive of the Scottish Golf Union, said: “Thanks to the support of St John’s Scotland, we’re delighted each golf club venue in Scotland hosting a Scottish Golf Union or Scottish Ladies Golfing Association national championship in 2015 will be gifted a defibrillator.
“The outcome will be significant cost-savings for golf clubs, positive golf club and community engagement and, above all else, could lead to the saving of lives at Scottish golf courses.”
The sentiments were echoed by Karin Sharp, chief operating officer of the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association, which is also backing the drive.
One of the clubs to receive a donated defibrillator – worth around £1200 – is Dunbar Golf Club. Secretary John Barber said: “We are very proud to be hosting the Scottish Boys Championships in June and we are delighted to accept the offer of a defibrillator.”
Sonia McCraw, who founded the Jamie Skinner Foundation in memory of her younger brother, said the news was “fantastic” as it would boost awareness of defibrillators across Scotland. “This is exactly what we want, as people are picking up on the need for defibrillators,” she said.
“Before it seemed like everyone just had their eyes shut.”