Family’s pride at defibrillator tribute

Councillor Catherine Fullerton, Claudia Wark, Finlay Francey and Claire Nicol. Picture: Scott Taylor
Councillor Catherine Fullerton, Claudia Wark, Finlay Francey and Claire Nicol. Picture: Scott Taylor
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A FAMILY has shared its pride at the installation of a defibrillator in memory of a father-of-three who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while watching his son play football.

Football coach Neil Brownlie, of East Whitburn, was watching his son Connor, then 16, in a match at the Forrester and St Augustine’s sports hub last January when he began to feel ill.

The 49-year-old, who was a coach for the South East Region Football Association, stepped outside for fresh air before 
collapsing in the car park.

Medics who were at a nearby triathlon club rushed to his aid, but the mechanic was pronounced dead when he arrived at hospital.

The shock was unbearable 
for Jude, his wife of ten years, but she bravely decided to turn her pain into positive action by raising money for a defibrillator along with her twin sister, Claire Nicol.

Claire, 44, of East Craigs, said: “When Neil collapsed there wasn’t a defibrillator or anything available there.

“We knew the funeral was going to be really crowded so we decided to do a collection for a defibrillator for the hub, to make sure no other family has to go through what my sister went through.

“His son Connor and my boys all played football at the hub and we wanted to make sure it had a defibrillator.”

The sisters lobbied hard to ensure the device could be stored in an accessible place, with it now situated in the first outdoor cabinet on council property.

Their actions have been credited as helping city chiefs finalise a defibrillator strategy – alongside the campaigning of the Evening News and the Jamie Skinner Foundation – as they prepare to roll out the life-saving devices to every Edinburgh secondary school before Christmas.

Councillor Cathy Fullerton, deputy education leader, said: “As a council we will be putting in over 40 of these devices in all our secondary schools and main council buildings in the coming months and providing first aiders and staff with familiarisation 

“We hope the defibrillators never have to be used but if they do then they could help save the lives of anyone who becomes ill.”

The Evening News teamed up with the Jamie Skinner Foundation last year for the Shockingly Easy campaign to increase defibrillator provision across Lothian.