A grieving father hoping to raise enough money for every school in Corby to have its own defibrillator has started handing out cheques to grateful primaries in the town.
Darren Lafferty and 17 friends did a sponsored bike ride between London and Brighton to help raise £18,000.
They are aiming to raise a further £7,000 which they hope will pay to equip every school in Corby with the life-saving machines.
The Fight for Every Heartbeat scheme is in memory of Darren’s son Thomas McNamee, 10, who collapsed and died at Sutdfall Junior School in October 2014.
He had been suffering from a heart condition.
On Friday, Darren visited the first five primary schools in Corby to benefit from the scheme. It is hoped Corby will be the first town in the country to have a defibrillator in every single school.
Darren said: “We’re going to keep going until we get to our target.
“Some schools have even started doing some of their own fundraising to help us get to the total.
“It’s nearly two years since Thomas died now and this has given me a reason to turn a negative into a positive.
“I have had to spend a week in hospital myself with my heart so it’s even closer to home now.”
Corby St John’s vicar Paul Frost, who has taken a key role in the fundraising, said: “Ideally, none of these defibrillators will ever need to be used. But if they are needed, it’s good to know they are there.”
The defibrillators will also be available for members of the public to use should someone have a heart attack near to one of the schools.
Emergency telephone operators will be able to direct people to the location to collect one.
Last year 291 children died after cardiac arrests in school playgrounds nationally.
It is thought there is a 75 per cent chance of survival if a defibrillator can be used within three to five minutes. There’s only a 10 per cent chance without.
Rockingham Primary Academy teacher Tracey Twelvetree, who received a £1,200 cheque from the fund on Friday, said: “It’s going to be so important to us to know that if anything happens to an adult or a child we can do something to help them.”
The other schools to benefit so far are Hazel Leys, Woodnewton, Beanfield and Kingswood primary.
If your school has not been contacted by the scheme and would like a defibrillator, call Darren on 07923 214619.