Sunday, 19 September 2021

Millie’s Dream delivers first heart machine

THE first defibrillator has been donated to a Henley school as part of the Millie’s Dream appeal.

THE first defibrillator has been donated to a Henley school as part of the Millie’s Dream appeal.

Rupert House School in Bell Street received the life-saving device during a special assembly on Monday and will keep it in the school office.

It comes just six weeks after Sarah Roberts, 44, of King’s Road, Henley, launched the campaign to raise £15,000 to equip 10 schools with a defibrillator.

She was inspired by her six-year-old daughter Millie, a pupil at Rupert House who has a heart and lung condition.

Millie presented the device to headteacher Claire Lynas along with head girl Georgia Newton, 10, whose father Barry paid for the £1,175 machine on behalf of his company, the GEOS Group. Mrs Lynas said: “It has been a huge privilege to be part of the fund-raising and to learn about the importance of defibrillators and it’s very exciting to be the first school to receive one.

“We will get it set up in a central place. We’ve had a little bit of training already but the device comes with a DVD to enhance our training with the staff and children.

“It’s a very important part of their learning. It’s also very important that they feel confident that they would know what to do in any emergency.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, who attended the presentation, said: “I would like to congratulate Sarah and Millie for getting this appeal well and truly off the ground.

“Defibrillators are very important devices and give people who suffer cardiac arrest a very high chance of survival.”

Councillor Gawrysiak said he would be pressing the town council to install a defibrillator at the town hall.

“It’s a central focal point and people would know where to go,” he said. “It’s very important to have these devices peppered around the town and I think we should have more of them.”

Suzanne Stickley, of First Aid Matters, demonstrated to the children how to use the defibrillator on a dummy.

She also taught them basic life-saving skills, including understanding the signs that someone is in sudden cardiac arrest, calling 999 and administering CPR treatment.

Mrs Stickley, from Stoke Row, said: “The questions the children asked were far superior to what I had expected.

“The knowledge they already have always surprises me and they are much more aware than you would think.

“The key thing for the little ones is to call 999 whereas with the older children it was applicable to make sure they know how to provide CPR.”

The device will be accompanied by a plaque acknowledging the donation by the GEOS Group, a transport and logistics company based in Station Road.

Mr Newton and his wife Victoria also have a six-year-old son, Oscar, at the school.

Mrs Newton, who attended the presentation, said: “It was great to donate enough for a whole defibrillator and it made it perfect that the charity chose to buy it for Rupert House, where we have a connection.

“It’s fantastic what they are doing by getting them installed all around Henley.”

The appeal has now raised more than £14,000 in donations and pledges and has bought six defibrillators, with Sacred Heart primary due to be the next recipient.

Miss Roberts, who hopes to have all 10 machines installed by Christmas, said: “It’s heart-warming, quite literally, as the support continues to be fantastic and money continues to be donated into our bank account.

“We started it and it has just got bigger and bigger.

“Now we want people to start thinking about bringing this into the wider community because we need to see more defibrillators.

“There should be at least four in the town centre where there is currently none.”

Miss Roberts, who is clinical director of the Active VIII phsyiotherapy clinic, said she has been contacted by schools from all over the country seeking advice on how to go about installing their own defibrillators. She said many of them simply wanted reassurance that the devices weren’t harmful to children.

“This machine won’t harm anyone — they are totally safe and potentially life- saving,” she said.

“My dream is that at the end of their eight-year battery life that the machines are very dusty because they haven’t been used but the important thing is they are there and if that saves one person’s life then it will have been worth all the effort.”

Millie will be opening a Christmas fair for the Love Henley group at Hotel du Vin on December 1 at 11am. It will include stalls selling local produce, gifts and crafts as well as a raffle from which the profits will go to the appeal. Rupert House has pledged to donate profits from its mulled wine stall at the Christmas festival in the town centre on December 6. Last year, this raised £3,000.

The school needs 150 bottles of red wine for the event and there will also be crates of wine being sold at Rupert House reception and the Active VIII clinic. To donate wine, call the school office on (01491) 574263.

To make a donation to the appeal, send a cheque, made out to “Millie’s Dream”, to: Barclays Bank, 10 Hart Street, Henley, RG9 2AX. The account number is 23727610 and the sort code is 20-39-53. For more information, visit

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