The fundraising work of two Durham mums which has seen potentially lifesaving defibrillators fitted in every village in Weardale, is in the running for a national award.
The David Nelson Memorial Fund was launched by the family of a Frosterley grandfather-of-four, who died after suffering a heart attack in January last year.
“Our original aim was to raise a couple of thousand pounds to buy a defibrillator for Hill End where my dad lived,” said David’s daughter, Gillian Hutchinson.
But never ones to do thing by halves Gillian and her sister-in-law, Allison Nelson, have gone on to buy kits for every community in the dale.
“It just went crazy, it felt like everyone wanted to help,” said Teesdale mum-of-two Gillian. “People came forward that we would never otherwise have met.”
Raising money through a range of fundraising activities, plus donations from across the region, the mums have been able to buy and install 14 defibrillators across Weardale, plus pay for four more for local primary schools.
Now the fund, which, with the help of the North East Ambulance Service, has also helped train 350 people in the use of the defibrillators, has been shortlisted for the Britain Has Spirit Community Initiative of the Year for the North East.
One of just three community groups to be shortlisted for the region’s title, the winner will be selected by an online public vote.
With the winning group from each region set to receive £1,000 towards a street party and going on to the national finals with the chance of winning £25,000 to put towards the cause, Gillian and Allison are hoping people will continue to get behind them by casting their vote.
“After all the support that we have received it would be nice to be able to say thank you with a community celebration,” said Gillian, 38, who works as head of department for the Prince’s Trust at Stockton Riverside College.
“I can’t even start to think about all the fund could do if we were to go on to receive an additional £25,000.”
Britain has Spirit, which is supported by celebrity ambassador, Gabby Logan, is a campaign launched by Together Mutual Insurance and is committed to helping build and support community projects and initiatives that have made a real difference to the areas where they live.
This year’s campaign covers 12 regions across the UK, with each area receiving a group and individual award. Voting is open now at www.britainhasspirit.com with individuals able to cast one vote every 24 hours.