In October 1999, Alistair Price, a Henley resident and member of the Court Leet, read an article in the Daily Telegraph about the village of Queniborough in Leicestershire. The residents had raised funds to buy a defibrillator and many of them had been trained to use it, so that even though the ambulance service might take time to reach the village, the response to a heart attack victim would be within minutes via the villagers themselves. Because Henley is in an ambulance “black spot” (it may not possible to reach a victim within the necessary 8 minutes) he resolved to raise money for a machine in Henley. He wrote to the Parish Council and the High Bailiff of the Court Leet, who were very supportive.
Fundraising began and by June 2000, a wonderful £10,000 had been raised. The first machine, costing £2,000 was given to the Medical Centre (and was used almost immediately). Residents at Wootton Wawen formed a group, raising their own funds, so that there are now 3 defibrillators in the area. To date, collection boxes in local shops and pubs have raised £1,500 and there have been many other generous donations.
Henley Heartstart became operational on 7th January 2001 and since then responders have been called out 62 times. At the moment there are 11 dedicated trained volunteers, who cover about 80% of hours in the month. Our thanks are due to Warwickshire Ambulance Service, who have generously given their time to train and re-test our first responders in resuscitation techniques and in the use of the defibrillator.
The people of Henley have been so generous with their donations of money, but it would be wonderful if there were residents out there who would donate a few hours of their time each month. If 10 more volunteers could be found, we could return to the round the clock cover and thus be in a position to help more heart attack victims.
Many thanks are due to Alistair, for his inspiration and continuing involvement and also thanks and gratitude to the first responders, who make themselves available each month in case a fellow resident should need their help.
Anyone reading this report, who would like to find out more and who may be interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Sara Butler (Co-ordinator) (01564) 792975 or Peter Crathorne (Chairman) on (01564) 795470.