AN appeal for life-saving equipment to be installed in every school in Henley has already raised enough money for one defibrillator - and has been pledged enough money for four more.
Sarah Roberts, 44, of King’s Road, Henley, wants to raise £15,000 so each of the town’s seven schools have access to a defibrillator.
She was inspired to set up the charity Millie’s Dream because her six-year-old daughter Millie has a heart and lung condition.
Mrs Roberts has already received more than £1,000 in donations and could have one device funded by Oxfordshire County Council.
Rupert House School, where Millie is a pupil, has also pledged to donate funds from its Christmas fair wine sale, which raised more than £3,000 last year.
Mrs Roberts, who is a clinical director of physiotherapy clinic Active VIII, hopes to have 10 semi-automatic defibrillators, which cost £1,175, installed by the end of the year.
She has extended the appeal to include primary schools in Sonning Common, Crazies Hill and Checkendon. Mrs Roberts said the feedback to her campaign, which was launched in last week’s Henley Standard, had been “amazing” and she has been stopped on the street by people to make donations and show their support.
“I’ve been given £1,000 by people dropping cheques into the clinic, emailing me or putting money into the bank account,” she said.
“We were stood inside Waitrose and people were passing by giving us £1. Some people have stopped me in the street and given me £5. It’s just mounted up.
“Effectively we’ve got about five defibrillators with the amount pledged and the aim is to have 10 by Christmas.
“Masses of people have been talking about it. The one thing absolutely everyone says is they can’t believe how few there are in the community.”
Mrs Roberts said she had been approached by a number of people who knew someone that had been saved by a defibrillator.
One person told her about a millionaire in Sydney, Australia, who had suffered a cardiac arrest but was rescued by the device.
He later learned there was only one in every seven ambulances and paid for them to be installed in every one.
Mrs Roberts said: “Without doubt everyone has said we should have more and they should be mandatory, particularly in schools.
“They are the priority but it’s much wider than that because we need to go out into the community.
“We also want to go into villages that are so far out for paramedics to get to so they have a better chance to survive.”
Lord Remnant, of Northfield End, has joined the charity as vice-patron alongside Olympic medallist Katherine Grainger, while Mrs Roberts is still hoping to win the support of Fabrice Muamba, the former Premier League footballer who almost died when he suffered a heart attack during a match in March 2012.
She said: “Lord Remnant has worked with Prince Charles’ charities and the Orders of St John Care Trust.He’s in his early eighties and has a huge amount of experience in charities. So we’ve got two different people an elite sportswoman and someone with a wealth of life experience.”
She has bought her own device in case Millie suffers any problems. The youngster has been under the care of the Great Ormond Street Hospital since she was 18 months old having been born with tracheobronchial malacia, a disorder of her respiratory system.
Town councillor Will Hamilton has asked David Nimmo-Smith, who represents Henley on the county council, if he could fund one defibrillator from his locality budget. Councillor Hamilton suggested it could be installed in Gillotts School because it has the most pupils and he also called for a review of medical equipment in the town.
He said: “It’s a very good campaign and I’ve already contacted our county councillor to see what he can do to support it.”
A number of schools have thrown their support behind the campaign. Clare Lynas, headmistress at Rupert House, where Millie is a pupil, said: “I am delighted to endorse Millie’s Dream and I am grateful that we are able to be one of the first recipients of one of the defibrillators.”
Gillotts headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “Clearly the equipment has the potential to save lives and could therefore be of the greatest importance.”
Karen Edwards, headteacher at Sacred Heart Primary School, said: “I’m happy to be involved and support in any way I and the school can.”
A ROWATHON will be held in Henley Market Place next Friday from 4pm to 6pm to raise money for Millie’s Dream.
Vice-patron Katherine Grainger has been invited to start the event. Children, parents and sportsmen and women from the area will collectively be aiming to row 25 miles on an ergo rowing machine in two hours.
Millie’s classmates at Rupert House will be there with collection boxes.