Boldon man's fundraising campaign in memory of his brother helps secure public defibrillators for the area
After losing his brother, Jon Woodhouse, aged 51, to a sudden cardiac arrest last October, Chris Woodhouse set up a fundraising appeal for the Red Sky Foundation – which supports those in the region with heart problems, along with their families.
The pair had previously worked together in the advertising agency they set up a number of years ago, Redman Ltd, based in Jarrow.
Thanks to the generosity of the local community, Chris’ campaign has now reached nearly £5,000 in donations - helping fund the installation of four lifesaving defibrillators in the Boldon area.
The first device – installed by local firm, HLA Services – is already in place at Boldon Post Office, with the remaining three soon coming to Cleadon, East Boldon and Boldon Colliery. A plaque in memory of the late Mr Woodhouse has also been installed alongside the new post office defibrillator.
Additionally, his brother has decided to organise an annual sponsored walk to raise further funds for the charity, with the defibrillators acting as marker points along the trail.
“Amidst Jon’s tragic passing just two months ago, the fundraising and heartfelt generosity from people near and far is overwhelming and a testimony to how he touched people’s lives,” he said.
“The installation of these defibrillators and the awareness that it has created can only be positive - the chance to save just one person’s life is immeasurable.
“As a group we intend on installing on a more widespread basis around the North East once the remaining three are in place.”
Sergio Petrucci, founder of the Red Sky Foundation, believes the relatively low number of defibrillators in the borough compared to neighbouring local authority areas makes this poignant fundraising effort even more significant.
Ar present, there are only eight public-access defibrillators in place across South Tyneside – with one having been installed towards the end of last year at a South Shields park.
This figure compares with 41 devices in neighbouring Sunderland and 98 in the Newcastle and Gateshead area. Because of this, Mr Petrucci says, his aim is now to “flood” the borough with defibrillators.
"My objective is to work with South Tyneside and Sunderland authorities to bring that number up and put a stop to the number of people dying in our area,” he told The Gazette.
“Around 5,000 people die in the North East from sudden cardiac arrest each year, so it is really important that people have access to these lifesaving pieces of equipment and also know how to use them.
"Only 1 in 10 people in a situation like the one Jon found himself in survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest – Jon was at home when it happened.
"We will now be working closely with the Love Boldon Facebook page to increase awareness of the device and so that training is offered to as many people as possible.
"The Red Sky Foundation has a strong working partnership with the NHS and North East Ambulance Service and we are currently working on the first of several training sessions that will take place in the area as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”