An unveiling ceremony of a newly installed defibrillator has taken place at Gatacre Pavilion, Oswestry.

The pavilion with its adjacent playing fields – the home of Cae Glas Cricket Club – is ideally located next to Woodside School and adjacent to the busy Gatacre housing estate and is in regular use by the Club and wider community for sporting and recreational activities.

High profile incidents such as the collapse on the pitch of the American Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin and a similar event in 2021 when the Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen received life-saving treatment during his country’s game against Finland, threw a global spotlight on the importance of prompt action to resuscitate victims of cardiac arrest.

Such action involves the giving of CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and the administration of electric shocks via a defibrillator.  CPR uses chest compressions to mimic how the heart pumps and help keep blood flowing throughout the body until a defibrillator can be located and brought to site.  The apparatus, which can be used by anyone even without medical training, is designed to assess whether the victim’s heart is beating or not and then automatically deliver the electric shock that is needed to restart the pumping of the heart.

And now, another public access defibrillator has been added to the list of those which can be found in and around the town.  Since speed is of the essence in the event of a cardiac arrest, the greater the network of defibrillators available, the greater the chance of saving a life.

In  March last year the then Mayor, Councillor Mark Jones and the President of Oswestry Borderland Rotary, Cathy Osselton presented cheques to the organisations who had made successful applications to the Bonfire and Fireworks Grant Fund. Rotarian, Jonathan Jones who was present at the unveiling ceremony said:  “Over £9000 was raised by this hugely popular event which was organised and stewarded by us and underwritten by the Town Council.  The result was that we were able to support many worthy causes such as this one around the town.”

A sum of £500 was awarded to the Cricket Club towards the purchase of the defibrillator and a secure cabinet to house it.  This has now been installed adjacent to the back door of Gatacre Pavilion.  The shortfall in funding for the equipment was then supplemented by another £500 donated by the family and friends of Andrew Roads, an ex-pupil of Whittington CE Primary School, the Marches School and North Shropshire College.

Andrew, who died suddenly in May 2020 of a totally unsuspected heart condition, lived in London where he had established himself as a successful freelance translator.

Andrew’s parents, Barbara and Jim Roads of Morda explained:  “Due to lockdown requirements, an event to commemorate Andrew’s life couldn’t be held until April last year 3 days after what would have been his 43rd birthday.  More than 100 friends and family members gathered together to celebrate his life and a collection was made at the event which raised sufficient funds to make a donation towards the cost of the Gatacre Pavilion defibrillator, as well as one in the Forest Hill area of London where Andrew and his wife, Jo, had made their home.”

Oswestry former Town mayor, Councillor Jay Moore expressed his gratitude to Mr and Mrs Roads as well as to Andrew’s sister, Emily Lewis, for their contribution towards the cost of the life-saving equipment, whose ongoing care and maintenance is being paid for by Cae Glas Cricket Club who have undertaken to pay for battery replacement and training of key personnel.   “We stand in solidarity with the family in their grief, hoping that the gift that has been made in Andrew’s name brings some small comfort in their loss.”

Pictured (left to right): Jonathan Jones, Ian Moult, Sophie Roads–Lewis, Jim Roads, Barbara Roads, Emily Lewis.