Phil Cunningham backs defibrillator campaign

Eddi Reader, Phil Cunningham and Karen Matheson get behind the Shockingly Easy campaign. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Eddi Reader, Phil Cunningham and Karen Matheson get behind the Shockingly Easy campaign. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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Folk icon Phil Cunningham brought his annual city Christmas concert to a halt to back our Shockingly Easy campaign.

The musician’s Christmas Songbook has become a festive institution in the Capital, with audiences packing The Queen’s Hall.

But halfway through Saturday’s gig, Phil’s star-studded band put down their instruments to urge the audience to display the #ShockinglyEasy banner and join the call for wider access to life-saving 
defibrillators.

Edinburgh-born MBE Cunningham, who suffered two heart attacks when he was in his 30s, said it was vital that people from all walks of life support the Evening News’ campaign, which is being run in partnership with the Jamie Skinner Foundation.

“The fact of the matter is, defibrillators have the power to save people’s lives,” he said.

“I’ve had a couple of heart attacks, and I’ve also had several friends who have suffered heart attacks.

“A lot of communities simply don’t have good enough access to these life-saving devices, and so we wholeheartedly support this campaign to see those facilities put into place.

“It really will help to save a lot of lives.”

He was joined at Queen’s Hall on Saturday by the likes of Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, John McCusker, Kris Drever, Ian Carr and Kevin McGuire.

Cunningham is also a trustee for the Skye-based charity Lucky 2 Be Here, which helps to promote wider access to defibrillators in rural areas around the Scottish isles.

The musicians are the latest to support the Evening News Christmas Appeal, which has seen well-known faces such as record-breaking long distance cyclist Mark Beaumont join former world boxing champion Alex Arthur and legendary musicians The Proclaimers in backing our campaign.

The fight has now been taken to Holyrood as the new deputy Labour leader and Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale wrote to Public Health Minister Maureen Watt last week asking the Scottish Government to back the campaign and provide funding for defribrillators across the whole of Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is determined to increase the number of people who survive a cardiac arrest.

“There have been a number of initiatives aimed to increase survival rates among heart attack sufferers.

“This is an issue that the Scottish Government takes very seriously which is why we have invested substantially in defibrillators across the country, including £1 million to provide them in dental surgeries and £100,000 to help increase the number located in community settings.”

The Scottish Government is set to publish a new strategy in the spring on how to cut the number of deaths from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, the spokesman confirmed.