HEDON finally welcomed the arrival of its new public access defibrillator on Saturday (14th February 2014) albeit over two and a half years since the money for it was first raised.
The idea of getting a life-saving defibrillator for the town was the brainchild in 2012 of four girls, Maisie Taylor, Natasha Tucker, Mackeah Alvani and Katie Hodgson, then aged 10 and attending Inmans Primary School. One of the girls had seen a public access defibrillator whilst on holiday in France, and thought ‘wouldn’t it be a good idea if we had one in Hedon’. So in the summer of 2012, after contacting the Community HeartBeat Trust for advice and support, they formed the Helpful Hands team as part of Humberside Police’s Lifestyle project, and set off to raise the cash.
After several weeks of the summer holidays selling home-made cakes and other items at stalls (including at Inmans Primary, Hedon town centre, at Boyes, ASDA, Bilton) and helping out at the Rainbow Garden in North Hull with painting walls and cleaning paths, face-painting services at Katie’s Kindergarden in Thorngumbald and organising several other fundraising activities, they had raised about a third of the cost towards the £1,750 defibrillator. They were then glad to receive additional donations from Hedon Women’s Institute and Yorkshire Water (from a special one-off grant fund available that summer.
Having raised the required amount and with the Helpful Hands team members being rewarded by Lifestyles for their efforts with a holiday trip to Wales, it all seemed to be ‘all-systems go’ to get the defibrillator installed hopefully by February 2013. But then the project administered by Maisie’s mum and Lifestyles adult adviser Linda Taylor, was beset by a stream of frustrating problems.
Firstly, locating the defibrillator where it would be easily seen and accessible proved problematic. The idea of locating it at Holderness Grange Lifestyle Village or Johnson’s Corner or in local telephone boxes were all deemed not feasible or impracticable. They then looked at Hedon Town Hall but attempts to investigate putting it there stalled when enquiries at the East Riding of Yorkshire Council led to a dead-end and no response. Finally, through a chance encounter with Hedon and East Riding Councillor Mike Bryan, who ironically the team had met briefly when receiving the cheque from Yorkshire Water, Linda’s husband Kevin Taylor finally realised he had found a champion for the project.
Secondly, it still wasn’t straight-forward! To get it fixed to the Town Hall wall required planning permission with costs attached which was further complicated because the building is a grade II listed building and East Riding conservation officers were concerned at preserving its ancient character and were not readily sympathetic to the idea of a brightly coloured yellow box attached to the 17th century building.
Kevin raised his concerns with Cllr. Bryan who took the issue up with council officers. A subsequent suggestion from a conservation officer that the defibrillator be painted black (!) was greeted with incredulity by Cllr. Bryan who managed to persuade planners that a highly visible, brightly coloured defibrillator was much more preferable and practical as a potentially life-saving feature. Cllr. Bryan also took the issue of the planning application costs to Hedon Town Council where it was agreed to pay for the application and the costs of professionally produced planning drawings.
So on Saturday 14th February 2015, two years and six months after the money was raised – and two years after the hoped-for installation – Hedon was finally able to formally welcome its new defibrillator!
The families of two of the girls from the Helpful Hands group (now both at South Holderness) came to see the defibrillator in place on Saturday and its installation was formally welcomed by Cllr Bryan and later by Graham Stuart MP.
Kevin Taylor said: “I’ve been really frustrated by the bureaucracy involved in getting the defibrillator installed, it has taken so long! But I’m delighted with the support given by Mike Bryan and Hedon Town Council. Without the town council’s support I think the whole thing would have just stopped and ground to a halt again.
“We’re really pleased it’s finally in place after all this time. With all the community support given to girls in raising the money in the first place – and thanks to everyone who supported them – it has been a real community inspired project and now the town can benefit.
“The second part of the project can also now be planned,” he said. “The Community HeartBeat Trust will run training courses so that people can use the defibrillator with confidence. We’re taking names now of people who would like to take part in the training which will run later in the year.”
If you are interested in taking part in the training and would like to put your name forward, contact Hedon Town Council on 01482 898428 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 9am to 3pm.