TWO football clubs have signed up to the Evening News campaign to equip every sports club in the Lothians with a life-saving defibrillator.
Leith Athletic and Easthouses FC – which have a total of 600 children on their books – vowed to invest in the devices thanks to a charitable cash injection from supermarket chain Scotmid.
Club bosses say the addition of a defibrillator will not only mean peace of mind for the parents of hundreds of young football players, but will also provide added safety for families and community groups that also share the parks the teams play in.
As part of our Shockingly Easy campaign in support of the Jamie Skinner Foundation, Scotmid agreed to donate £250 towards the purchase of a defibrillator for 11 city sports clubs.
The foundation was set up earlier this year after 13-year-old footballer Jamie collapsed and died after going into cardiac arrest on the pitch at Saughton in December.
Bert Bungay, of Leith Athletic FC, said our campaign had opened his eyes to the gap in safety that youths were being unnecessarily exposed to.
“These defibrillators are just something that every park should have,” he said.
“Leith Athletic has over 500 kids, and it’s important to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep them safe.”
He added the purchase of a defibrillator for Leith Links Park would not only benefit players of the club – but would also help dozens of community groups that used the facility.
“This isn’t something that’s meant to be under lock-and-key,” he said. “There are loads of groups using the park, children playing on the weekends, that could need access to a defibrillator. They are community assets, and it’s important that everyone knows where they are and how to use them.”
Helen MacLean, an organiser at the Midlothian-based Easthouses FC, said that her six-team club decided to take advantage of Scotmid’s offer after receiving encouragement from parent Claire Gately, whose brother-in-law, former Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, died in his sleep in 2009 due to an undiagnosed heart condition.
“There have already been too many incidents on and off the pitch where a defibrillator could have saved someone’s life,” Helen said.
“Hopefully we never have to use it, but that’s not a chance we’re willing to take.”
Helen said that club parents were already queuing up to add money to Scotmid’s £250 donation – as the typical defibrillator costs in the realm of £2000.
“We’ve got very generous parents, and hope to have the defibrillators as soon as possible,” she said.
Malcolm Brown, head of corporate communications for Scotmid, said: “It’s fantastic the Evening News’ Shockingly Easy campaign is already making a real difference and we’re looking forward to helping to bring more defibrillators to clubs near our Heart Safe stores.”
Readers’ response ‘overwhelming’
DONATIONS from Evening News readers have poured in since we launched our ‘Shockingly Easy’ campaign aimed at equipping every sports centre in the Lothians with a life-saving defibrillator.
Dozens of cheques have been delivered to the News, with one generous donor pledging £200 to the cause, below. More than £700 has been raised from readers’ donations so far
The campaign has been launched in conjunction with the family of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner who collapsed and died playing football in Edinburgh last December. It is also being supported by the Scottish Ambulance Service
If someone has a heart attack outside hospital, they are three times as likely to survive if a heart start machines is nearby and deployed quickly.
Frank O’Donnell, editor of the Evening News, praised the readers’ response.
“The reaction of our readers to this campaign has been truly overwhelming,” he said.
“Their generosity will help to buy to save lives in the Lothians.”