A grieving father is hoping to create a lasting legacy to his son by raising cash to buy lifesaving equipment for every school in Corby.
Thomas McNamee died aged just 10 when he collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest in the playground at Studfall Junior School in Corby in October 2014.
His dad Darren Lafferty believes he could have been saved if there had been a defibrillator at the school that was available for staff to use.
He is now joining up with 17 friends from Corby to ride the 54 mile British Heart Foundation bike ride from London to Brighton on Father’s Day to help raise about £25,000 to buy a defibrillator for every school in Corby so no other parent has to suffer in the same way.
He said: “The stats say there’s a 75 per cent chance of survival if you can get a defibrillator on within three to five minutes. There’s only a 10 per cent chance without.
“Last year 291 children died after cardiac arrests in school playgrounds.
“I really need the people of Corby to get behind this. If every household donated just £1 that would be enough to buy a defibrillator for every school.”
Thomas had open heart surgery aged just three after being born with a hole in his heart. He had just returned from a trip to Disneyland and was due for further surgery when he collapsed at school. Despite the air ambulance rushing him to hospital, there was nothing that could be done to save him.
Darren said: “I want to do the very best I can for Thomas.
“It helps me grieve. It will be an overwhelming day because it’s Father’s Day. But I’m trying to turn my life around and all I can do now is try to turn a negative into a positive.
“I won’t stop fundraising until every primary school in Corby has a defibrillator.
“I want us to be the first town in the country to have one in every single school.
“And then we’ll move on to Kettering and the other towns.
“There’s no reason why every school shouldn’t have a defibrillator.
“Thomas was like an angel. He lit up the room.
“There was never a dull moment when he was around. He just couldn’t stop doing good.
“If we walked past a homeless person he’d ask me to give him his pocket money to give to him.”
Darren is being helped to administer the charity efforts by St John the Baptist Church in Corby Old Village, and Reverend Paul Frost is one of those who is joining the bike ride.
The group will leave Corby at 5am on Sunday ready to start the ride at 8am.
The funds raised will be presented to each school to pay for a £544 government-subsidised defibrillator. Some schools need two of the machines because of the size of the site.
You can find out more on the group’s Facebookpage.
The people taking part are: Darren, Reverend Paul Frost, Christopher McGlone, James McGlone, Stephen Keogh, Den Palmer, Joanne Oliffe, Kieran Magee, John Langley, Jamie McNamee, Lee Wills, Liam Meehan, Michael Legg, Lee Esslemont, Graham Rust, Craig Cowan, Adam McDade and Vuk Bobic.
You can sponsor Darren on the Facebook page or by calling him on 01536 393059 or 07923 214619.