Heartstart Thatcham to wind down

The trustees of Heartstart Thatcham have taken the very difficult decision to close the charity. Scheme co-ordinator Nick Young said “this has been one of the most difficult decisions for us to make and the decision is for a number of factors, not just Covid-19”.

Heartstart Thatcham was formed in May 2013, becoming a registered charity in 2015. The aim was to teach the British Heart Foundations Heartstart courses to 100 members of the public a year. Courses taught CPR, defibrillators, recovery position, and more potentially lifesaving skills in a short, and free, 2 hour course. The first training session was held in the Old Bluecoat School on 3rd August 2013 and since then we have held over 168 training sessions, enabling more than 2,000 people to be taught these skills. In addition we have educated, via talks and various media outlets, thousands more.

In 2014 we added the target of installing 4 public access defibrillators around Thatcham. We installed our first Public Access Defibrillator in October 2014 at Henwick Worthy Field and since then we have installed over 60 other units across the district and been involved, with advice and training, on many more.

We know some of the defibrillators have been deployed and individuals attending the courses have used their skills. A number of attendees say they have been inspired and have since gone into the medical profession as a result of attending the course. Nick said “we have had a fantastic set of instructors, volunteers and supporters that have made this incredible achievement over the last 8 years and we are all incredibly proud and grateful for their time and skills. Their hard work, to put it simply, we know has and will continue save lives.

Medical Director for Heartstart Thatcham David Hamer said “For the last 8 years Heartstart Thatcham has fundraised, trained members of the public in Basic Life Support and use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and installed AED’s to a number of sites across West Berkshire. None of this would have been possible without the excellent training team we have and the leadership of our scheme coordinator Nick. Whilst this has been a very hard decision for all involved, we feel it is the right one and we hope the legacy of Public Access AEDs and training we leave behind will be of use and hopefully save many lives in the years to come.

Training supervisor Naomi Mildenhall had the following to say about closing Heartstart Thatcham “Working with the extremely dedicated volunteers at Heartstart Thatcham has been a real privilege, the work that has been achieved on a very low budget for the good of the wider community is testimony to our Coordinator Nick Young’s vision and drive. Although it is with sadness that we now close, I know that we leave a lasting Heartstart legacy that will continue for years; with many people trained to save lives and many public access defibrillators available for use in an emergency.”

Some of the team will continue to teach CPR and other skills in other capacities in the community.

The trustees would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have supported us over the years, to everyone who has donated, to all those that have attended the courses and to all who have volunteered for us. Nick said “everyone should feel proud, we have helped save lives and the work we have done will continue to save lives.

Thank you.