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Village’s lifesaver

AN EMPLOYEE’S heart attack prompted a Walberton charity to set out to install a potentially lifesaving device.


The learning disability service, Hft, secured funding for the defibrillator at its premises in Freeman Close after the medical emergency.


Jeff Hawkins, who has been a support worker at Hft Sussex for 11 years, began to feel unwell during a shift in November, 2017.


His colleagues, who were all first aid trained, quickly picked up his condition and alerted the emergency services.


Jeff made a full recovery and the charity’s staff began to think about how a defibrillator could be a vital piece of equipment for those at their service and the general public nearby.


The charity successfully bid for funding from the Walberton, West Barnham and Bersted Poor Fund. This distributes grants or supports to people in the area.


Sarah Shallis, the operations manager at Hft, said: “We’re delighted to have obtained a device which could save vital minutes, and ultimately a life, if someone experiences a cardiac arrest.


“Situated in the heart of the community, the defibrillator will provide staff, people we support and members of the public with important reassurance that help is at hand in case of an emergency.


“The generous grant of £2,980 that we received also enabled us to fund a new adult changing table for our supported changing area and some equipment for our sensory area.


“We have longstanding links with the Walberton parish and a number of people we support are part of the church community. We’re very grateful to them.”


The automated external defibrillator is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.


It is a vital part of improving the chance of survival in cases of cardiac arrest.


The Rev Tim Ward, the vicar of Walberton, said: “We’re able to support a small number of people every year with things like bills and the cost of major items such as defibrillator.


“We find that this assistance is much appreciated and have been very happy to supply a piece of vital equipment to an important local service.”


Hft Sussex supports more 70 people with learning disabilities locally and employs 60 members of staff.


They offer person-centred services ranging from residential care to supported living at home – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day.


Hft is a national charity which supports more than 2,900 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales.

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