Stewart Park (Middlesbrough) defibrillator was officially unveiled on Saturday morning before the weekly parkrun event. Thanks to the efforts of Swift-tees community running club and the generosity of the public the park will be a safer place from now on.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop did the honours, flanked by the chair of Friends of Stewart Park, Councillor Town Mawston, Chair of Swift-tees Michael McCann, the instigator of Swift-tees and the public appeal, Rosanne Lightfoot, also representing major donor Boro, was Head of UK Recruitment, Gary Gill and Pete Richardson Parkrun North East Amabassador.
The light rain and early start didn’t put off a crowd of onlookers, many wearing running club colours, Swift-tees blue and NYMAC black being to the fore but others were also represented. This was a gesture from the running community to help make Stewart Park safer for all.
The public appeal was launched by Swift-tees community running club at the start of December and such was the grip on the public imagination that the £1600 total needed was realised in less than 4 weeks.
A launch event at Stewart parkrun in early December saw Swift-tees members take over all the voluntary positions at the every popular parkrun all dressed in medical attire. There were £500 + donations raised on that first day. Boro Head of Recruitment and parkrun fan, Gary Gill donated a signed Boro shirt raffled for well over £300 at the Swift-tees Christmas party.
The defibrillator is secured in its casing on the external wall of the Captain Cook Museum and today a first of several session was held by North East Ambulance Service in training in CPR and defib-use for up to 100 regular park users and Askham Bryan College staff based in the park. Anyone will be able to use the equipment and it could potentially be a life saver for someone struggling at any age. The courses however will enable park regulars to have a better grounding, understanding and practical experience and therefore confidence in dealing with crisis.
Swift tees Community Running club is based at the Habinteg Centre behind Hemlington shops. The community comes first for this very welcoming and award winning group. People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to run, jog or walk at a level they are comfortable with and enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit and a chat about it afterwards.
The appeal was the brain wave of Swift-tees founder Rosanne Lightfoot. It was so successful that she hopes to follow up with a defibrillator for the many leisure users around Hemlington lake. The users now include a junior parkrun held on a Sunday morning around the lake and very popular in Gary Gill’s household.
Parkruns are going from strength to strength these days. It doesn’t matter where you are in the country at 9am on a Saturday morning there will be a growing band of people lapping their local park for a distance of 5km. Stewart Park had its record attendance of 354 in mid January and there were almost 500 runners bringing the New Year in around Albert Park on January 1st, a record for the Linthorpe park.
Nationally, parkrun are aiming to get defibrillators as close as possible to the weekly runs . Recently a runner colapsed at Clumber Parkrun in the East Midlands and was revived by volunteers and other runners using a brand new two week old defibrillator and CPR. This brings home how defibrillators and CPR can be a matter of life and death.
The new device is a community public access (cPAD). The vandal proof cabinet is fitted with a combination lock and the code will only be available when a 999 call placed to North East Ambulance Service. An ambulance will then deployed at once and the code given to allow the life saving equipment to be used.
The North East Ambulance Service will return the defibrillator back in its cabinet with a new code and ensure it is maintained and there to save lives in the popular park. As Rosanne said on Saturday morning hopefully it is never needed but we can all feel more safe and secure in the knowledge that Stewart Park now has a defibrillator.