Club’s gift from the heart

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It’s a gift from the heart!

A group of grateful pensioners have made a donation of hundreds of pounds to fund the ground-breaking installation of potentially life-saving equipment in a Fylde pub.

The Lord Derby in St Annes town centre is set to become the first hostelry in south Fylde to have a defibrillator to hand for use in an emergency - and it is all thanks to the generosity of the members of the Lytham St Annes Friendship Club, which meets there every Thursday.

The Club, with more than 70 members ranging in age from early 60s to late 80s, has flourished since the Lord Derby came to the rescue after the club’s previous base, the former Sandhills pub in St Annes Square, closed down suddenly just before Christmas 2013.

“We turned up for our Christmas meal at the Sandhills and it was closed - but after the Lord Derby heard about our plight, they laid on a festive meal and have been our regular base ever since,” said Friendship Club secretary/treasurer Roy Valentine.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to manager Emma and the team at the Lord Derby and we are delighted to have the opportunity to fund the defibrillator.

“We aren’t charged for the use of the room and the Club has gone from strength to strength since, with membership more than doubling.

“Our members look forward to the Club get-together every week so much and it is vital socially for so many of them.

“The money being spent on this equipment would normally be spent on trips out and other such events, which will still go on, but we have enough in the kitty to make sure this very important facility is covered.”

Along with £400 for the equipment, the Friendship Club is to pay for the training in its use by some of the Club members along with Lord Derby staff.

“Seven or eight of our members have already expressed an interest in being trained to use it should it ever be needed,” added Roy.

“It is a vital piece of equipment which it is important to have available if required and, along with the people in the pub at any particular time, with the Lord Derby being at a key location right in the centre of St Annes, it will provide peace of mind for so many to know it is there if needed.”

Lord Derby manager Emma Willder said: “It will be good to have the defibrillator available and we are so grateful to the members of the Friendship Club.

“They are lovely people and it is a delight to welcome them every week.

“There are already defibrillators in some pubs in Blackpool and other areas and I had been looking at the idea for us. If it helps save even one life, it is worth having available.

“So we set about raising funds and asked the Club members at one of their meetings if they would like to contribute to the fund-raising.

“But they asked how much was needed and said they would take care of it.

“It’s a wonderful gesture.”

Patricia Ann Higginbottom, Friendship Club organiser and music hall host under her staged name Miss Patricia, said: “The people at the Lord Derby deserve a gold medal for what they have done to help the Club and this really is the least we could do by way of thanks for their efforts.

“When I ran a pub in Blackpool, I recall three customers who suffered fatal heart attacks and I remember thinking, if only we had had the equipment to hand to have helped them immediately.

“Time is always vital in such cases and having the defibrillator to hand in such a key location will be of potential benefit to so many people.”

The provision of defibrillators in public places came to the fore after the near-fatal heart attack suffered by Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba in an FA Cup tie at Tottenham in March 2012 and Lytham St Annes Lions responded by making it its charity cause at its 2013 and 2014 Swimarathon events.

The Lions, also anxious to avoid a repeat of an incident in 2010 when a student of Lytham St Annes School collapsed and died suddenly on a tennis court, raised more than £25,000 to ensure defibrillators were installed in all Fylde schools and spokesman Colin Holt said: “It’s a vital cause.”

St John Ambulance training officer Clive James said: “Automated external defibrillators are proven to save lives.

“A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time and we know that survival rates increase by more than 50 per cent if a defibrillator is used within the first four minutes, so immediate access is vital.

“Every second matters and by having a defibrillator in public place like a pub, the risk of death by cardiac arrest can be greatly reduced.”