SINCE an Argus-led campaign was launched six months ago more than £11,300 has been raised, and ten schools in the Gwent and Rhymney Valley area have been provided with a heart defibrillator.
Back in January this year, only six of Caerphilly county borough’s 16 secondary and special schools had a defibrillator on site or at a nearby leisure centre. Eight others have since received the machine thanks to the appeal, leaving only two in the area without one.
Two other schools in Newport, St Joseph’s RC High School and Newport High School, have also received so-called “defibs”. The machines, which cost around £1,000 each, are provided by Welsh Hearts charity.
It now leaves 25 out of the 52 schools across Gwent’s five local authorities, including the Rhymney Valley, without a defib.
Jack’s Appeal was launched in memory of Oakdale 15-year-old Jack Thomas, who died suddenly of a previously undetected heart arrhythmia in February 2012.
Jack’s funeral took place a day before footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed in a game and was saved by emergency cardiology care. Jack’s parents, Grant and June, said immediate medical attention was a major factor in Muamba surviving, adding they would like to see it copied in secondary schools in South East Wales as it mostly affects teenagers among the younger demographic.
Since its launch, the appeal has gained the support of various community councils, local businesses, Argus readers, and other charities.
Mrs Thomas is now urging the remaining schools to come forward and show an interest in receiving the machines.
She said: “The main thing is the rise in interest. When we go to the schools, the kids want to get involved.
“Many of the schools have listened to me and Grant speak about what happened [to Jack], and children are now starting to understand that it doesn’t just happen to older people.
“If you’re interested, just please get in touch. It’s making a difference and schools are getting their defibrillators.”
Since its launch, Jack’s Appeal has sparked another campaign to get a legislation to make heart defibrillators available in every public place in Wales.
Newport nurse Phil Hill, who is leading the petition, spoke alongside Mrs Thomas at the Senedd in Cardiff earlier this year to discuss the probability of introducing Jack’s Law. A debate is due to take place in the Senedd chambers surrounding the issue in September.
l There is now an easier way for Argus readers to donate to Jack’s Appeal by going online to welshhearts.org/jacksappeal.
Otherwise, people can donate by sending cheques payable to Welsh Hearts, to Temple Court, 13a Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9HA. Put reference “Jack Thomas defibs appeal” on the back of the envelope.