Locality funding at the heart of defibrillator initiative for West Stow

A new defibrillator has been installed in West Stow for the community as part of local investment by councillors in the parish to help save lives.

The device has been installed at the Community Hall in West Stow village. It is the second defibrillator to be installed in the parish, with one already in place at Culford.

It means that in an emergency residents have direct access to the lifesaving equipment, which is easy to use, and can be deployed while an ambulance is on its way in these crucial minutes.

The equipment and installation was funded through £500 Locality Budget by St Edmundsbury Borough Councillor for West Stow Susan Glossop; £500 from Suffolk County Councillor Rebecca Hopfensperger locality fund and £666 from the Parish Council. Local businessman and campaigner Paul Hicklin who has been helping communities install defibrillators, following his father’s death, was also part of the initiative.

Locality funding is where councillors can use money allocated to them to support projects and community groups in their area.

St Edmundsbury Borough Councillor Susan Glossop, who represents West Stow, Wordwell and Culford as well as Flempton, Hengrave, Ingham, Lackford and Risby said: “I was really pleased to be able to support bringing this vital lifesaving equipment to West Stow. Having community defibrillators in rural areas and villages are vital and can be the difference between life and death for someone. By listening to and working with the community we have been able together to fund this and other local projects that will make a real difference to residents.”

Suffolk County Councillor Rebecca Hopfensperger, who represents the area as part of the Thingoe North Division, said: “Helping make this type of initiative happen is what our locality budgets are about. It was good that local councillors and councils could come together with the community and make this happen. While I hope it does not need to be used it is good to know that a life may be saved or people given treatment until the ambulance arrives.”

Joy Childs, Chairman of Culford, West Stow and Wordwell Parish Council, said: “This is the second defibrillator that we have installed in the parish and we hope to put a third at Wordwell. It is easily accessible on the outside of the Community Hall and it is registered with the Ambulance Service when anybody calls them. I would like to thank everyone involved who has made this possible.”

Since his own father’s death, Paul Hicklin, who lives in Bury, has been campaigning to see 24-hour public access defibrillators in town centres and other locations to help people in cardiac arrest.

He said: “The evidence is clear that following a sudden cardiac arrest the use of early defibrillation significantly improves the person’s chance of recovery. Survival of a sudden cardiac arrest depends on a series of critical links that together form the chain of survival. This includes ringing 999; early CPR to maintain blood flow and early defibrillation to re-establish the heart’s natural rhythm. I was delighted to work with the local councillors to install this vital equipment for their communities.”

West Suffolk Councils in total makes available to communities the opportunity to access a total of £650,000 in annual funding from Councillor Locality Budget, Community Chest as well as from a wide range of regional and national grant opportunities.

In 2018/19 more than £400,000 was granted to community led projects to benefit residents in West Suffolk by the Councils.