It is not widely known that between 12 and 16 young people a week die in the UK from sudden cardiac death (SCD). Eighty percent of those youngsters will have shown no prior symptoms. Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation and widespread availability of automatic external defibrillators would very likely prevent a significant number of those deaths. Survival rates as high as 75% have been reported when defibrillation was administered swiftly.
King’s Sutton resident Julie Cross has long maintained an interest in the devastating effects of SCD. That’s why she and her family kicked off fundraising efforts In September last year in the hope of accumulating enough money to buy a potentially life-saving defibrillator for the village primary school. Just six months later, the Cross family has raised the incredible sum of £3,650 – enough to buy defibrillators both for King’s Sutton Primary Academy and for Chenderit secondary school in neighbouring Middleton Cheney.
“We set out with the intention of increasing awareness of the incidence of sudden cardiac death in children,” says mum Julie Cross. “We wanted to do something to make our school ‘Heart safe’ – to help reduce the risk of SCD to the school’s pupils, teachers and visitors. Following discussion with the parish council and Nick Peters, head of King’s Sutton Primary Academy, we began fundraising activities at the end of last summer to buy a defibrillator for the school.
“My nine-year-old son Daniel wanted to take a lead with the fundraising and devised a 100-lap challenge, which involved him completing 100 circuits of the village recreation ground with a mix of cycling and walking. Daniel’s grandparents were a great source of support, encouraging lots of friends and family to sponsor him. Another family member, Tony Platten, was so impressed with Daniel’s determination to raise money that he donated an amazing £2,000 from his own charitable fund, the Community Foundation Northumberland.
“Daniel and his sister Emma held a cake and wrist-band sale at school to raise money too, with cakes made by his grandma. Geoff Reason, the dad of one of Daniel’s school friends, was also keen to help and last December, he ran in the Hook Norton Christmas Canter, donating all his sponsorship money towards our project. Finally, we have to thank another family friend, Dave Brett, who ran in last November’s Las Vegas Marathon and kindly added the money he raised to the cause.”
The Cross family chose to spend the money they raised on defibrillator packages from the Hand On Heart Charity (www.handonheart.org). Each of these packages includes the defibrillator itself, a carry case, batteries, disposable equipment, and training for staff and up to 30 children at King’s Sutton Primary Academy and Chenderit School.