North East Connected

Whitton Defibrillator Plans Spark Into Life After Successful Community Fundraising Campaign

New life-saving equipment has been installed in a Stockton village thanks to a successful community fundraising campaign and a four-figure grant from a regional employer.

Stillington & Whitton Parish Council drew up plans to install a public access defibrillator in the community to give anyone suffering a cardiac arrest a better chance of recovering by getting faster treatment.

Over a three month period, local residents managed to raise over £2,000 towards the cost of purchasing and installing the defibrillator.

And now, after the Parish Council secured a £1,700 grant from the Durham-headquartered Banks Group, the new defibrillator has been installed in the former phone box in Whitton village.

The easy-to-use defibrillator is stored in a locked box which can be opened with a code given by the emergency services when any 999 calls are made in response to someone having a cardiac arrest.

First aid training sessions have also been set up by the Parish Council to ensure local people know how to use the machine and are confident in providing help to people in need.

The Banks Group grant has been allocated from the community benefits fund linked to the firm’s nearby Lambs Hill wind farm, which provides around £10,000 of funding every year to ensure that tangible long-term local benefits result from the wind farm’s operations.

Gwynn Dunn, Clerk at Stillington & Whitton Parish Council says: “There had been interest in getting a community defibrillator here for some time, and when the village phone box became redundant, we quickly adopted it to provide the accessible location we needed in which to keep one.

“We live in an area that’s very popular with cyclists, walkers and dog owners, so as well as being there for local residents, the defibrillator could also be a literal lifesaver for any of our visitors.

“The community responded with great enthusiasm both to the fundraising campaign and the first aid sessions that we’ve been running, and while we hope we never have to use it, it’s reassuring to know that the defibrillator is now there in case that time ever comes.

“It probably would have taken us at least another year to raise the money we needed for the project if Banks hadn’t stepped in to support it and it also means that we can allocate budgets towards meeting other local spending priorities.”

Eligibility for grants from the Lambs Hill wind farm community benefits fund is normally restricted to projects and activities within Stillington & Whitton, Bishopton, Foxton, Great Stainton, Little Stainton, Grindon, and Bishopton Crossings, but projects outside these areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within them.

A funding committee comprised of village residents and supported by a dedicated fund manager from the Banks Community Fund team meets every few months to discuss how the funding can best be allocated to meet local spending priorities.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Lambs Hill community benefits fund is specifically designed to help improve the facilities available to people living in the communities around it.

“The community response to the fundraising campaign was extremely impressive and we’re very pleased to be helping the Parish Council put this vital piece of equipment in place.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding from the Lambs Hill wind farm community benefits fund should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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