A campaign to install potentially life saving defibrillators in schools has secured the cash to buy two machines - with more on the way.
Barnard Grove Primary School and Blackhall Colliery Primary School are the first to benefit from the Defibs for Hartlepool appeal, spearheaded by Middleton Grange Shopping Centre manager Mark Rycraft.
We believe every school in Hartlepool should have a defibrillator, and everyone at the centre is pulling together to help us make this happen.Middleton Grange manager Mark Rycraft
It provides schools with a defibrillator, together with training for staff and pupils, in an effort to prevent children being among the 12 young people across the country who die from sudden cardiac arrest each week.
Mr Rycraft and Middleton Grange security team members Ray Hughes, Adam Goodwin and Paul Foster, set up Defibs for Hartlepool with the aim of ensuring every school in town had a defibrillator.
Working with the charity Hand on Heart - which raises awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and educates young people about life-saving techniques, as well as funding and placing defibrillators in schools - Mr Rycraft said the number of defibrillators in the town is about to treble.
He added: “Because of our own work in raising awareness of this issue, the facilities management company we work with raised some money and offered to help us and Hand on Heart put a defibrillator in a school here.”
The project has also been supported by Halifax, with Mr Rycraft a winner of its Giving Extra local award for his community work, with the bank matching up to £500 raised by the team.
A tombola, backed by businesses in the centre, staff and customers, along with a coin collection and donations has already raised more than £700.
“The machine has a switch for adult and paediatric use so is ideal for schools, and the funding also provides training for as many as eight teachers,” said Mr Rycraft.
“There’s also a training session for pupils, which dispels some of the myths and mystery surrounding defibrillators.
“They’re very safe - these things are computers, they can’t shock someone that doesn’t need shocking.
“We believe every school in Hartlepool should have a defibrillator, and everyone at the centre is pulling together to help us make this happen.”
A further two schools are scheduled to receive defibrillators in the coming weeks, with Councillor Paul Thompson also backing the efforts to provide one of the machines.
Joanna Clark, headteacher of Blackhall Colliery Primary, said: “We are currently holding special assemblies and activities to teach children about the role they can play in saving lives, and having the defibrillator can only help develop that awareness.
“Not only will having this at school give our staff, pupils, parents and families peace of mind, but it also could prove to be critical in saving lives in future.”