Iceland makes defibrillator U-turn

David Wilson, of The Stephen Carey Fund, outside the Iceland store in Alnwick. The charity wants to site the defibrillator on the wall behind him.
David Wilson, of The Stephen Carey Fund, outside the Iceland store in Alnwick. The charity wants to site the defibrillator on the wall behind him.

A supermarket giant has made a U-turn following the Gazette's story about its controversial decision to refuse a charity's request to install life-saving equipment - conceding 'we made a mistake'.

This morning, we reported how frozen-food chain Iceland had turned down a bid from The Stephen Carey Fund to fit a public-access defibrillator and cabinet on the outside wall of the store's Alnwick branch, beside Greenwell Lane.

Stephen Carey.

Stephen Carey.

Karl Morgans, building surveyor, had told the charity that, after several such requests over the years and following discussions with the firm's health and safety and insurance team, it was decided that the company would not place this type of equipment on any of its buildings.

The snub came as a major blow for the namesake Fund which thought the shop was the perfect place for a defibrillator - due to its town-centre location and because 21-year-old Stephen had worked at the store before his death in July 2012.

The charity was formed in his memory after he collapsed and died while playing the game he loved. The talented midfielder, from Alnmouth, had an undiagnosed heart defect.

However, following our story, we were contacted by an Iceland representative this afternoon who has apologised and said the equipment can, in fact, be fitted to the side of the building.

Stephen Carey, left, with brother James Bowman.

Stephen Carey, left, with brother James Bowman.

He said: "Quite simply, we made a mistake. As soon as the Gazette drew the mistake to our attention we were pleased to put it right and we immediately emailed The Stephen Carey Fund to offer our sincere apologies and to offer to host the cabinet outside the store, as originally requested. Iceland will be delighted to do this in memory of our late colleague Stephen Carey and to provide a potentially life-saving resource for the whole community in Alnwick. I have spoken to David Wilson from the Fund and they will be going ahead with the installation as soon as the equipment is ready."

Responding to the news, Mr Wilson said: "I am delighted that Iceland has changed its mind. It always was and still is the right place for the cabinet to be, both in terms of Stephen's connection with the store and also its location in the town."

The charity has installed more than 50 defibrillators across Northumberland and has taught thousands of people crucial first-aid training. Last month, we reported how Northumbrian Water employee Andy Tomlin saved the life of Darin Ferguson by using vital skills he had learnt from the Fund just 24 hours earlier.