Lawrie Reilly friend gives £2k to defib campaign

Robert Hay remembers his kickabouts with Lawrie Reilly. Picture: Jon Savage

Robert Hay remembers his kickabouts with Lawrie Reilly. Picture: Jon Savage

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A FORMER classmate of Hibs legend Lawrie Reilly has donated £2000 to our Shockingly Easy campaign in memory of football-mad teenager Jamie Skinner.

Robert Hay, 85, fondly remembers having a kickabout with the Famous Five striker when they attended North Merchiston primary school and neighbouring boys’ club.

He gave the generous gift after reading about the Evening News’ campaign to secure life-saving defibrillators and training for sports clubs across Lothian.

Mr Hay, from Longniddry, said: “It’s a sad thing that happened to Jamie. You didn’t hear of it back when I played football. I used to play at Saughton Park and Harrison Park for a few years and I played for the school when Lawrie Reilly was there. I have read about the campaign in the Evening News and I hope a lot of people donate to it. I just thought it was a good cause and I’m at an age where I don’t need the money any more.

“I used to be a member of the North Merchiston Boys’ Club and I thought if they haven’t got one, maybe this could get them one.”

Former Hearts youth player Jamie, below, was making his debut for Tynecastle FC when he collapsed suddenly on December 22 last year. Amid the panic which followed, a defibrillator which was on site at Saughton was not used.

The Jamie Skinner Foundation was set up by his family in memory of the 13-year-old and since then donations have flooded in for the former Liberton High School pupil.

Last week Tynecastle announced it had abandoned lucrative sponsorship deals to promote the foundation.

Edinburgh South Football Club, where Jamie used to play, was named as the first recipient of a Scotmid-funded defibrillator earlier this month.

Jamie’s sister Sonia McCraw said the family has been amazed at the response so far – with the total now standing at about £12,000. It means the charity pot has enough for at least half a dozen defibrillators, which can increase the chance of survival after a cardiac arrest by up to 70 per cent.

“Hearing about this latest donation has had me in tears,” Sonia said.

“It’s so lovely, I can’t believe how generous people are being. I think Jamie would be flabbergasted by the number of people that have donated.

“So many people have given what they can, whether it’s £5 or £10, he would be so proud.

“The campaign has got so many people thinking about it and realising it can happen to anybody, Jamie’s story has made such a difference.

“People know that it is a worthy cause it is going to and one that will help so many people.”