Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Thanks for great two years, says Millie’s Dream founder

AN appeal to install life-saving defibrillators in schools has smashed its target by more than five times in just two years.

AN appeal to install life-saving defibrillators in schools has smashed its target by more than five times in just two years.

Millie’s Deam was launched in September 2013 by Sarah Roberts and was named after her daughter, who has a heart and lung condition.

Miss Roberts, of King’s Road, Henley originally aimed to raise £15,000, enough to place a defibrillator in each of Henley’s seven schools.

In fact, it has installed a total of 36, 11 in schools and 25 that are accessible to communities.

Miss Roberts, who is a clinical director of physiotherapy clinic Active VIII in West Lane, said she never dreamed her campaign would take off as it did.

She said: “I’m so proud and so grateful to all the people in Henley for their support.

“I never could have believed that within 24 months we would have installed 25 community defibrillators and made sure all the schools, primary and secondary and not just in Henley but further afield, have been supplied. It’s only because of the support of the community and the Henley Standard.

“I was so enormously grateful and pleased that by Christmas 2013 we had actually managed to raise the money to buy the primary school defibrillators. I think I was just very, very fortunate.

“People can relate to it and they see an end product. Now they are in the community boxes they almost feel they are giving back something to themselves.

“Having a child behind any charity obviously helps â?? it’s a local child with a genuine problem.”

She said Millie, a pupil at Rupert House School, was now at an age where the appeal was exciting for her.

“When we first started it was a little bit over her head,” said Miss Roberts. “Now she’s eight she understands. She’s really excited and really proud. Her friends at Rupert House have been really supportive.

“She’s the inspiration behind it and she has been enormously supportive and she wants to continue to be part of it.”

Miss Roberts said it was now important to ensure people knew what to do if someone suffered a cardiac arrest and how to use the equipment.

First Aid Matters, a company owned by Suzanne Stickley, from Stoke Row, provided free first aid training in schools and Dick Tracey, of South Central Ambulance Service, ran first aid classes.

“One day one of these Millie’s Dream boxes is going to be needed and people need to know what happens when they are,” said Miss Roberts. “We need to take away the fear factor.

“My family and I didn’t know anything about defibrillators until Millie was diagnosed. When we started investigating we found we lose 12 to 14 young people in Britain every week to sudden cardiac arrest.”

Miss Roberts said there was a less than a five per cent chance of survival with a sudden cardiac arrest but with the help of a defibrillator this increased to more than 50 per cent.

She now has enough money to install a further three devices and is hoping to place them in rural areas such as Skirmett and Rotherfield Greys.

“Ultimately, once the money has run out I can’t continue,” she said. “What I’m trying to do now is go back to the schools that were given a defibrillator and make sure the education programmes are up-and-running.

“These devices save the lives of the people we love and they are getting more and more sophisticated. Once every single school in Great Britain has been covered with a defibrillator I can stop!”

Miss Roberts won the community champion award for young people in last year’s Sue Ryder Women of Achievement Awards and is an ambassador for this year’s awards.

“It is a great honour and a great privilege,” she said.

People interested in installing a defibrillator in their community should contact Miss Roberts by email at or

The community defibrillator boxes:

1. HSBC Bank, Henley

2. Rupert House School, Henley

3. Gillotts School, Henley

4. Leander Club, Henley

5. Leichlingen Pavilion, Mill Meadows, Henley

6. Peppard phone box, Peppard Primary School

7. Nettlebed Community School

8. Crazies Hill village hall

9. Sonning Common community library

10. Checkendon Primary School

11. Checkendon telephone kiosk

12. Chiltern Edge School, Sonning Common

13 Piggott School, Wargrave

14. Langtree School, Woodcote

15. Harpsden village hall

16. Stoke Row village hall

17. Willow Bank Junior School, Woodley

18. The Hub, Henley

19. Stoke Row pavilion

20. Banbury Rugby Union Football Club, Bodicote

21. The Baskerville, Shiplake

22. Shiplake community hall

23. Kidmore End Primary School

24. Remenham Parish Hall

25. Wargrave recreation ground

Defibrillators are in the following schools: Sacred Heart primary, Valley Road primary, Badgemore primary, Trinity primary, and St Mary’s School, Henley; Oratory Prep, Goring Heath; The Heights primary, Caversham; Caversham primary, Shiplake primary, Crowmarsh Gifford Primary and Beach Lodge School, Hurley.

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