MORE than 30 schools and sports clubs now have defibrillators thanks to a heart group and a Bolton News campaign.
In the past two years Tracey Wilkinson has helped more than 30 schools and sports clubs purchase defibrillators through the Bolton ICD Support Group. And the fundraiser says she will not stop until every school in Bolton is fitted with the life-saving equipment. The Heart of Bolton Ball, the charity’s biggest fundraiser to date, will mark six years since Tracey lost her own father to heart disease. Her dad, Mark Eden, was one of the founding members of the group and suffered with cardiomyothapy — a disease of the heart muscle.
An implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) was able to support Mr Eden’s heart for five years but he died at the age of 47. Tracey, from Stoneclough, said: “I feel very passionately about what I do because of my dad’s illness. The ICD gave him another five or six years but we knew it couldn’t keep him alive. He would have needed a heart transplant ultimately. He was so young and I feel that by helping with the Bolton ICD Support Group I am keeping his memory alive.”
The Bolton ICD Support Group was originally set up to support ICD patients and their families. They decided to extend their fundraising to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) after footballer Fabrice Muamba’s life was saved by the equipment.
Tracey, from Stoneclough, added: “Muamba really raised the profile of defibrillators. More and more people were talking about them and suggesting that there should be more out in the community. Our long term goal was to ensure all schools have a defibrillator. But then sports clubs and community groups started fundraising for defibrillators too. The fundraising went from strength to strength until we had donated more than 30 in two years — it’s amazing really. The more supporters we have, the more defibrillators we get out there in the community and potentially save lives.”
A glitzy ball takes place later this month to raise more funds for the cause. The Heart of Bolton Ball will take place on Saturday, September 27, at the Macron Stadium. Tracey added: “The ball falls two days after the anniversary of my dad’s death so it will be extra special for me.”