Comment: Thousands of lives have been changed

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Traditionally at this time of year newspapers run Christmas appeals to raise funds for local good causes. It is a custom that the Evening News has been proud to uphold over the years, supporting a wide range of fantastic local charities in Edinburgh and the Lothians whose work we have seen transform the lives of people in need.

Our servicemen and women in Afghanistan, the Teenage Cancer Trust, Edinburgh Women’s Aid and the HIV charity Waverley Care are just a few of the causes that you have so generously supported at our urging in recent years.

We are very proud of the difference that readers of this newspaper have made by digging deep to allow such important work to continue and spread. Over the years thousands of lives have been touched and changed for the better by your generosity.

But this year we felt compelled to do something different – something unique.

This time we are not asking for your money. What we are asking for is a little of your time and your commitment.

Since we joined forces with the family of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner – who tragically died on the football pitch just before Christmas last year – your wonderfully generous donations have been pouring in.

We are extraordinarily grateful for every single one and are sure that we can count on more to follow in the months ahead.

But we need more than just money to achieve our ambition of putting life-saving defibrillators in every sports centre in the ­Lothians.

We know that doing that will save countless lives. These machines are startlingly easy to use and the results are almost miraculous. Their timely use can double the chances of surviving a heart ­attack in the community.

Together, we can pay for these machines, but we also need sports clubs to volunteer to host them.

That sounds simple enough. There are no insurance problems and you don’t even need training to be able to use one because the device will talk you through what you need to do.

But without your help, it won’t happen.

If you are a member of a sports club, please buttonhole a committee member and asking them to put it on their agenda.

If you are not, ask a friend or family member who has joined a local sports club to do it. That simple act will make the difference. It will save lives.

Quite simply, we believe that this is the most important campaign we have ever run. Please help us make it a success.