A charity set up in memory of a grassroots footballer has been refused permission to install life-saving equipment on the side of the shop where he worked – because of health and safety and insurance.
Supermarket chain Iceland has turned down a request from The Stephen Carey Fund to fit a public access defibrillator and cabinet on the outside wall of its Alnwick branch, beside Greenwell Lane.
The namesake cause was formed after the 21-year-old collapsed and died in July 2012 while playing the game he loved. The talented midfielder, from Alnmouth, had an undiagnosed heart defect.
Since then, the charity has installed more than 50 defibrillators across Northumberland and taught thousands of people crucial first-aid skills.
Fund members thought Alnwick’s Iceland branch would be a great place for a defibrillator, given its location in the town centre and, more poignantly, it was where Stephen worked before he died.
They are disappointed with the decision. Fund trustee David Wilson said: “We don’t agree with it and I really don’t think they have considered it properly. There are no issues with insurance or health and safety. Given the store’s location and that Stephen was an employee, we felt this was the perfect site in the town centre.
“This decision has nothing to do with the branch itself, because the Alnwick team has been supportive of the Fund.”
In an email to The Stephen Carey Fund, following the charity’s request, building surveyor Karl Morgans said: “As a company, we have had several such requests over the past couple of years and following those it was discussed with our health and safety and insurance team.
“Although I sympathise with your cause, unfortunately for various reasons it was decided that we wouldn’t site defibrillators on our buildings. I hope you find another suitable location soon.”
The Gazette contacted Iceland for a comment, but did not receive one before going to press.
Following Iceland’s defibrillator snub, The Stephen Carey Fund is appealing to business and property owners in the town who would be willing to have it installed.
Mr Wilson said: “It leaves us with a fully-funded cabinet and defibrillator waiting for a location in the town centre of Alnwick and we want to place it on a wall of another building.”
Criteria for installation includes: A location that is visible from the main roads; ideally in a prominent site so that the public are aware of the cabinet during their regular comings and goings, this will also deter vandalism; not on a narrow pavement where the cabinet may protrude too much into the path of pedestrians; with access to mains power supply (will cost the building occupant around £25 extra on their annual bill); ideally not on a listed building but this would not necessarily rule out a building.
The cabinet and the defibrillator inside it would provide coverage of a 500-metre radius from its location. As with all the Fund’s cabinets, it is only accessible in the event of a cardiac arrest emergency by dialling 999 and being provided by a unique access code from the North East Ambulance Service call handler.
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