School staff have taken up a gruelling challenge after learning about the need for community defibrillators.

A team of 20 staff from West Park Academy, Darlington, on June 11 will tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, a gruelling 24 mile trek totalling 5,200ft of climb.

They are aiming to raise enough cash to provide a life-saving defibrillator outside the school gates in an area of increasing population that is popular with shoppers, runners and dog walkers.

Every year staff take on a fundraising challenge mobilised to action by the efforts of PE co-ordinator Caroline Black.

This year they have chosen to secure a defibrillator with any remaining funds going to the Great North Air Ambulance after a former colleague had a heart attack at home.

“We were keen to give the community something back,” she said. “When our former colleague had a cardiac arrest it got us thinking about just how many people now live around the school and, because we are next to the park, how many runners, boot camps and dog walkers are in the area. Having no defibrillator in the area felt like a missing piece of jigsaw in our community.

“We love doing challenges and do something every year for the community. We have been training, have tackled some of the Wainwright peaks in the Lake District, as well as Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s monument on the North York Moors.”

She said more than a quarter of the staff were taking part which was proving to be a great opportunity to bond with each other.

They had received the backing of Jobready and Printing House Sign Direct as well as the West Park Levy and local councillor Scott Durham. Caroline said she hoped other local businesses would also support their efforts.

Once installed, anyone needing the device will be able to ring 999 and be given a security code with which to access the machine. The defibrillator itself then talks the user through the process with easy to understand instructions.

“This will be the first accessible defibrillator in the West Park area,” Caroline said. “They are so easy to use and really do make the difference between life and death.”