North Yorkshire pub owners shun wedding gifts to instead fund lifesaving defibrillator

A newly-married North Yorkshire pub landlord and landlady have shunned the usual wedding gifts in favour of something to save lives in their local community – a defibrillator.

David & Wendy Humphreys are the landlords at The Stiddy, the pub in Lythe just north of Whitby, North Yorkshire. When they got married on 1 January 2014, they thought it would be nice to give something back to the community and asked their guests for money for charity instead of gifts.

At the time they didn’t know exactly what for, but after watching a real-life emergency services programme on the BBC where someone had a heart attack and was saved by the use of a defibrillator, it became clear where they thought the money could best be spent. To save the villagers of Lythe having to undertake fundraising for the machine, the couple donated the money and contributed themselves to make up the difference.

The defibrillator now has pride of place on the front wall of The Stiddy.

A defibrillator is a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a cardiac arrest. Other communities are now being asked to come forward and purchase a machine for their village.

The defibrillators are available to communities in areas of North Yorkshire thanks to Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRW CCG) and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS). They are providing access to Community Public Access Defibrillators (cPADs), available 24/7. An initial 37 potential village locations have been identified as part of this project. The locations and details for how communities can get in touch with the CCG are listed at the bottom of this page. 

The CCG has kickstarted this project by purchasing the cabinets to house the defibrillator unit, which are secure and weatherproof and accessed by a coded lock. The cabinets are to be placed in prominent village locations, with access to an electricity point as the case needs a trickle of electricity to keep the unit frost-free.

Each defibrillator itself will have to be bought by the community at a cost of £900, and the community is expected to work with the NHS to recommend a suitable site within their village.

David said: “When we were planning our wedding we thought to ourselves that we had everything we needed, so Wendy and I considered it would be a good idea to collect money for a charity. We have enough toasters already!

“We settled on a defibrillator for the village. We are a village of people who are getting older, and a defibrillator would be useful. Hopefully it never gets used, but it’s right here if we need it. It’s here for the whole community.

“The contribution to pay for the kit is small – if there are 100 people in the village than that’s just £9 each. Or perhaps other communities may look to hold an event to raise money. It really is worth it for the peace of mind – if it saves just one life then the cost is repaid.”

In an emergency, someone on the scene needs to call 999 and the code to access the unit will be provided. The end user requires no formal training and will be supported throughout the operation of this device over the telephone. The YAS operator will instruct the caller in its use and remain on the line to support until the ambulance service arrives.

There are no risks to the user, it is extremely difficult to accidently misuse this device: the unit analyses the patient’s condition and determines if the condition requires defibrillation and/or CPR and will instruct accordingly.

Dr Charles Parker, Topcliffe GP and HRW CCG Governing Body member, said: “We are delighted to be working with Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust to provide cabinets for life-saving defibrillators at dozens of locations across Hambleton, Richmondshire and the Whitby area. We are working closely with communities to guide them on raising money for the machines themselves, and initial interest has been very encouraging.” 

Paul Stevens, Locality Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Hambleton, Richmondshire & Whitby CCG. Defibrillators provide an increased chance of survival in the early onset of a heart attack and particularly a cardiac arrest. In the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, early access to the patient, along with effective CPR can make a significant difference. 

“This partnership arrangement will give members of the public the opportunity to learn simple new skills that can make the difference between life and death. Having the knowledge to support the patient in a life threatening episode of cardiac arrest until the ambulance or response vehicle arrives will significantly improve survival to discharge. We encourage communities to support this project, particularly in rural areas.”

In the picture above, the happy couple David and Wendy, alongside Jayne Scott who is a Community Defibrillator Trainer from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

For more information on defibrillators for your village, you can contact Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on 0300 303 8394. Alternately, the locations of the boxes for the units, along with contacts for fundraisers to get in touch, are:

Hambleton: Leeming Village, Snape, Coxwold, Raskelf, Newton under Roseberry, Carthorpe, Exelby, Thornton Le Moor, Hawnby, Osmotherly.
Contact: Ken Elliott at hambleton.hen@nhs.net

Whitby & area: Egton, Lealholm, Castleton, Commondale, Westerdale, Danby, Ainthorpe, Houlsyke, Stonegate, Beck Hole, Kidale, Ingleby Greenhow, Battersby, Chop Gate, Lythe, Staithes
Contact: Linda Lloyd at whitby.hen@nhs.net

Richmondshire: West Burton, Thoralby, Hunton, Newton-le-Willows, Constable Burton, Fingall Bainbridge, Marske, Preston-under-Scar, Thornton Rust, Asygarth, West Witton.
Contact: Jane Ritchie at richmondshire.hen@nhs.net