FUNDRAISERS who are helping provide defibrillators to schools in a West Wales town have welcomed the efforts of Jack Thomas’ parents and the Argus to do the same in Gwent.
The Argus has teamed up with Grant and June Thomas for Jack’s Appeal, which is calling on people to donate or hold a fundraising event to raise the money to provide secondary schools in Gwent with a defibrillator - a machine that can help save the lives of people in cardiac arrest.
Jack, a pupil at Oakdale comprehensive school, was just 15 years old when he died two years ago after suddenly falling ill while watching rugby on television.
Tony Hamilton-Shaw and his wife Sherilyn set out along the same fundraising path in Llanelli barely a year ago.
So far their efforts through their charity Cariad, Our Schools Need Defibrillators, have provided 21 defibrillators to schools in and around Llanelli, and over the next few months they aim to increase that figure to 38.
“It’s a very important cause and I wish it every success,” said Mr Hamilton-Shaw.
The couple set up Cariad after Sherilyn was diagnosed with a heart condition and while researching it discovered there are 270 sudden cardiac arrests in UK schools every year.
“We don’t understand why it isn’t compulsory to have a defibrillator in schools, and that’s what we would like to see happen. But as it isn’t the case at the moment, we wanted to help provide them to schools in Llanelli,” said Mr Hamilton-Shaw, who, as a volunteer community first responder for the ambulance service, is trained to use a defibrillator and help provide training for the public and for staff at schools the charity equips.
Cariad organises and runs fundraising events to help towards its goal, and Mr Hamilton-Shaw said awareness of the role and use of defibrillators is vital too.
“A lot of people are scared of the idea of using a defibrillator, but you can’t make a mistake. The machine decides when to deliver the shock and all you really have to do is attach the pads that deliver it,” he said.
“We’ve certainly found that there are people willing to support this type of fundraising, and I hope that’s the case with your appeal.”
l Anyone who wishes to make a simple donation to Jack’s Appeal, or donate the proceeds of a fundraising event, can send cheques made payable to cardiac charity Welsh Hearts, either to its headquarters at Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA, or to Newsdesk, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN. Please write ‘JackThomas defibs appeal’ on the back of the envelope.