Memorial fund scores £20,000 to save lives

Stephen Carey.
Stephen Carey.

A memorial fund, set up in honour of a grassroots footballer, has scored a £20,000 donation to help it buy life-saving equipment for Northumberland communities.

The namesake Stephen Carey Fund netted the cash from an anonymous benefactor, who also gave the same amount to North Tyneside-based charity North East Heart and Goals.

Both causes – backed by former pro-footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered an on-pitch heart attack – aim to prevent tragedies and are committed to installing defibrillators in towns and villages. The money will allow them to install more units in more places.

Stephen Carey Fund chairman, Scott McEwan, said: “We are absolutely ecstatic. The money will allow us to get more defibrillators for different areas, which is absolutely fantastic.”

The Stephen Carey Fund was set up at the end of 2012, following the death of the 21-year-old, from Alnmouth, who collapsed and died while playing for his village side earlier that year.

He had been born with an undetected heart problem.

The campaign has exceeded its first-year fund-raising target, collecting nearly £20,000 – before the recent five-figure donation – and has secured defibrillators for Alnwick, Shilbottle, Hipsburn First School, Lowick and Glendale Middle School.

And it is working with other organisations, such as East Chevington Parish Council and Alnwick Amateur Boxing Club.

The state-of-the-art machine delivers an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a cardiac arrest.

Coming with a CPR advisor, the top-of-the-range kit gives easy-to-understand visual and voice prompts to guide the user through the entire process.

The equipment is kept in a public-access cabinet.

The donation will allow the Fund to extend its work.

Scott added: “In the last year, we have worked closely with the football clubs within the North Northumberland League, providing members of each team with an FA-recognised first-aid qualification and first-aid kits, but felt we could do more. We hadn’t realised how important defibrillators are or how easy they are to use until we met Paul and Alex from North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) NHS Foundation Trust.

“We have already helped five areas get defibrillators, but we have so many inquiries coming in all the time, and as the awareness is raised, we expect more.”

The NEAS NHS Foundation Trust is backing both funds, providing advice and guidance as well as training to those receiving defibrillators.

To contact The Stephen Carey Fund about a defibrillator, or to receive a free first-aid kit, send an email via the website,