A campaign launched in honour of a 21-year-old footballer who died playing the game he loved has scored a major achievement – by raising enough money to buy two life-saving machines.
The Stephen Carey Fund was set up in memory of the Alnmouth lad who collapsed while playing for his village side in July.
Attempts were made to save the midfielder – born with an undetected heart problem – at the match and in hospital, but nothing could be done to save him.
In tribute and to try to prevent similar tragedies, a group of his friends launched a namesake fund towards the end of last year to provide emergency first-aid training and equipment to grassroots football clubs.
The campaign has raised more than £8,000 and now the committee has been able to purchase two defibrillators – a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a cardiac arrest.
The machines on order are top-of-the-range 500p models, costing more than£2,500 each, and the committee hopes they will arrive by the end of July.
One is due to be located in Alnwick, following a £2,000 donation from the town’s John Bull Inn, and the other is set to be sited in Shilbottle.
The committee hopes to purchase more in the future.
Fund chairman Scott McEwan, one of Stephen’s closest friends, said: “We never thought we would come as far as this so soon. It is all down to the response of the community.
“We are ahead of schedule by six months.
“Defibrillators really do raise the chances of survival – that is how important they are.”
The committee has also raised enough money to be able to put more than 100 people from clubs in the North Northumberland League and Morpeth Sunday League, as well as other clubs in the area, through an emergency first-aid course in July. Participants will receive first-aid kit.
The Fund has affiliated with the British Heart Foundation and the North East Ambulance Service is to put committee members through the Heartstart initiative. Members then want to train the community.