Village comes together to install defibrillator

A Weardale village has pulled out all the stops to fund and install a defibrillator in under five months.

Villagers in Howden-le-Wear have raised £2,700 to provide a defibrillator and cover its running costs for 10 years, including £500 of support from  County Durham Housing Group.

A concerted effort saw businesses, residents and even the local scout group helping the fundraising. Defibrillators are designed to save lives by delivering a high energy electric shock to the heart of anyone suffering a cardiac arrest. They are being installed in public places throughout the country, but traditionally these have been in urban locations as opposed to rural villages like Howden-le-Wear.

The life-saving equipment has been installed at Howden-le-Wear village hall in Hargill Haven, an easily accessible location close to the centre of the village. The defibrillator was officially switched on during a brief ceremony attended by funders and supporters on December 18.

The fundraising efforts have been coordinated by resident and volunteer David Kirkbride, who was inspired by hearing how other villages in the county had installed similar devices. He said: “All the village has supported the fundraising. We’ve had collection tins in local shops and businesses. The local scout group helped with a leaflet drop to 750 local homes too. We’ve had some fairly substantial donations.

“It’s a defibrillator for the village that has been made possible by the people in the village.”

The new Howden-le-Wear defibrillator is the only one in the area. The closest existing defibrillators are in Witton-le-Wear and Crook, both over two miles away.

County Durham Housing Group Funding Officer, Damian Pearson, said: “It’s been great to be able to support this project with our group grant scheme. It really has been a community effort and I’ve been bowled over by how much local people have been brought together by this fundraising. They should be immensely proud of what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time.

“Our contribution might only have been a small part of the wider efforts, but community projects like this are exactly why we created out ‘group grant’ funding programme.”

Full details of the group grant scheme are available here.

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