THIS year the Evening News Christmas campaign is not asking for money, just your help to save a life.
We need your help to spread the word about the incredible difference that defibrillators can make to take our Shockingly Easy appeal to the next level.
The campaign, in memory of 13-year-old Jamie Skinner, aims to put a defibrillator in every sports centre in the Lothians. More than £30,000 has already been raised – enough to buy more than 20 of the heartstart machines – and more donations are pouring in all the time.
But we do not yet have enough clubs volunteering to provide a home for the lifesaving devices.
That’s where you come in.
Take the Shockingly Easy pledge and share a picture of yourself on social media with the #shockinglyeasy hashtag and a link to edinburghnews.com/shockinglyeasy.
The pledge means you have promised to spread the word about the campaign. If you are a member of a sports club, we want you to find a committee member and tell them about the Shockingly Easy campaign and ask them to put it on the agenda for their next meeting.
If you do not belong to a club, then ask someone who does to do it for you. Maybe your uncle can raise it at the local bowls club, your sister at her tennis club or your son at his golf club.
There are around 800 sports clubs across the Lothians, many of the bigger ones in particular already have defibrillators, but there are still very many who do not.
There are no insurance issues surrounding having one on your premises and, as the name of our campaign suggests, they are incredibly easy to use. They can be used without any training because the devices themselves talk the responder through exactly what they need to do.
Bryan Finlay, community resuscitation development officer at the Scottish Ambulance Service, which is supporting the Shockingly Easy campaign, said: “It seems like a bit of a cliche but most people think it will never happen to them. It can happen to anyone at any time and while it might not happen to you, it could happen to someone nearby. It might not be players at a club, it might be one of the parents or grandparents watching or one of many volunteers involved in a match.
“As a paramedic there is nothing worse than going out to a call at this time of year and losing somebody.
“It is terrible to lose somebody at any time of year but there is something even more awful about going out on a call on Christmas Day when someone is having a cardiac arrest. Anybody who has used one will tell you how easy they are. There is still that fear perhaps, but clubs – and ordinary people – should realise they are so easy to use.”
While we seek more sports centres to host the devices, fundraising is continuing. Events are being planned at football, golf and boxing clubs across the Lothians and Lord Provost Donald Wilson is looking to recruit a team of runners to complete the Edinburgh Half-Marathon next year to help the cause.
The campaign has been hailed as a success already by Jamie’s sister, Sonia McCraw, who said the family was delighted with the support they have received in creating a lasting legacy for the talented footballer.
The superfit 13-year-old died suddenly on a Saughton football field almost a year ago, one of 600 apparently fit and healthy young people who die in the UK each year from undiagnosed cardiac conditions.
And, as we all know, it is not just the young who suffer heart attacks. More than 1500 Scots died in the community last year after suffering a cardiac arrest. If a shock from one of these heart-start machines is administered along with CPR in the first three to five minutes, it increases the chance of survival up to as much as 75 per cent.
Sonia, 30, said: “We would like to say thanks very much to everyone for the support we have had, even from people we don’t know who have been getting behind the campaign.
“The response has been really good so far and there is so much more we can do.”
She said: “This should have been done years ago. The number of people who have said that to me is amazing.
“But now we are doing something about it.”
Inch Park Community Sports Club, in Liberton, was one of the first centres to purchase a defibrillator thanks to the campaign, and the machine was installed last month. Jamie’s former teammates at Edinburgh South FC campaigned for the introduction of vital kit at the centre where they train alongside teams such as Lismore Rugby Club and Edinburgh South Cricket Club.
Easthouses Football Club signed up soon after for funding from Scotmid supermarket, when the co-operative threw its weight behind the campaign in the summer and pledged to donate £250 towards a defibrillator to 11 sports clubs that are located close to its stores. We still have funding to award from Scotmid as well as the Lothians Health Foundation – a trust fund set up more than 250 years ago – which has pledged £6000 to buy four defibrillators in Edinburgh, Midlothian, East and West Lothian. Several clubs are raising or have raised funds for defibrillators, including Easthouses FC, Dalkeith Miners CYP, Kirkliston and South Queensferry FC, Sighthill Bowling Club, Leith Athletic, Midlothian Boxing Club, Lauriston Thistle FC and Craigroyston CYFC.
Evening News editor Frank O’Donnell said: “The response to the Shockingly Easy campaign has been phenomenal. We know that what happened to Jamie and the courageous way in which his family have responded to that tragedy has struck a chord with people across Edinburgh and the Lothians, regardless of whether or not they had known Jamie.
“We also know that this campaign can save many families from going through the same agony, but we cannot do it without your help. We need our readers to go out into their communities and to make sure the issue is raised on agendas in sports clubs.
“It is such a simple thing to do, but it will make a huge difference. We don’t like to think about anything untoward happening to those we hold dearest, but you never know it could be one of their lives that your action saves.”
The Jamie Skinner Foundation has set up a new fundraising page where donations to the cause can be made through PayPal – visit www.fundrazr.com and search for Jamie Skinner.
And for more information on our Christmas campaign, contact Lizzy Buchan on 0131-311 7394 or e-mail email@example.com.
The chance of surviving a cardiac arrest drops by ten to 20 per cent for every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation
‘The cause is very close to us’
ONE of the first places to benefit from the campaign was Inch Park Community Sports Club, which installed a shock box last month to ensure the safety of its 550 members.
Members of Jamie’s former team Edinburgh South FC – which trains at Inch Park – wanted to honour their former teammate on their kit so they got in touch with the Jamie Skinner Foundation.
Adam Hill, who coaches Edinburgh South’s Under 16s team, said: “The boy Jamie used to play for us and a lot of my team were friends with him so the cause is very close to us.”
The club was chosen by Jamie’s family to receive funding for a defibrillator from Scotmid, after the supermarket chain threw its weight behind the campaign.
The 21-year-old also helped to organise a training session for teams at the sports centre when the vital kit was officially handed over by the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Adam, who lives in Marchmont, added: “I would definitely recommend other clubs take part. You don’t know what it would be like until something like that happens to you, but I would like to think it wouldn’t be as scary as it looks and instinct would kick in.”
IN MEMORY OF JAMIE
THE News has joined the family of Jamie Skinner in launching the Shockingly Easy campaign. We hope to ensure there is a life-saving defibrillator in every Lothian sports centre. Here’s how to help:
• Raise the issue with the committee of your local sports club and ask them to put supporting the campaign on their agenda.
• Learn CPR skills or volunteer to host a training session at your club. If you can help, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
• If you already have a defibrillator, please let us know too, so you can be added to the ambulance services’ defibrillator map of the Lothians.
• Finally, if you want to make a donation or fundraise for a defibrillator. Cheques payable to The Jamie Skinner Foundation can be sent to Shockingly Easy, Edinburgh Evening News, Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, EH4 2HS. Donate online by visiting www.fundrazr.com and searching for Jamie Skinner.