Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oliver King Foundation - defibrilators for every Liverpool Primary School

This morning I was delighted to join guests at a special event in Pinehurst Primary School, Anfield, to welcome the delivery of the first defibrilator, one of 122 destined for all our city's primary schools.

LPHA, Liverpool Primary Heads Association (or similar) asked the council to direct over £100,000 of its budget for schools to the purchase of these life saving machines and their chair, Rachel Rick, head of King David Primary School was excited to be there as the first one was ceremoniously handed over in front of the whole school.

This initiative comes from the hard work of the Oliver King Foundation which was set up in memory of a 12 year old boy from King David's who died from SADS (sudden adult death syndrome) last year. His family and trustees are campaigning to raise awareness of the syndrome, to encourage the Government to send teenagers for a routine ecg and for every school and public building to have a defibrilator to start the heart, along with the trained staff to use it. 

Witnessed by the Lord Mayor, representatives of Everton FC, Liverpool FC and various guests, including Natasha (Tasha) Jonas, the Liverpool born Olympian boxer who is a trustee of the Foundation, the proceedings and presentations were directed by another trustee, Councillor Jake Morrison.

As someone who has helped develop Jake's political career, I was so proud of him this morning. This confident, self-assured, articulate, engaging and occasionally humorous young man, the youngest councillor in Liverpool who won his seat against all popular expectation, has come such a long way from the gauche, sometimes shy and tongue-tied youngster that I first met. I well recall taking him out door-knocking with me just a bit less than three years ago and he much preferred to stand silently with me rather than going to doors on his own. As I watched him in action today, I felt very strongly that I was watching someone who is really going places, for whom the sky is the limit.

When I met him, through the city's youth service, Jake's biggest dream and ambition was to be a Paramedic, and indeed Casualty is still his favourite TV programme, so you can see why he would be keen to support a worthy campaign around an important life-saving health issue. Personally, I don't think he will now end up as a health worker, I suspect in years to come he will become a significant figure on Liverpool's council (he is already a Mayoral Lead) and then perhaps become an MP, and start working his way up the Parliamentary ladder too.

The impact of the loss of Oliver King was a tragedy that as his father said, could have been dealt with either way by the family. Mark King told the children of Pinehurst Primary School that the family could either have closed the curtains and mourned for the rest of their lives, or opened the curtains wide and got out there and campaigned for the safety of children and young people across the country.

Apparently 12 young people die each week of SADS and it was a representative of Liverpool FC who told the children that they wanted to help the campaign because that figure represents a football team plus a reserve, and he could think of nothing better than to save a football team's worth of children.

It was impressed upon us how important it is that we encourage people to sign an online petition calling on the Government "to introduce defibrillators to all public buildings by 2017, and provide staff with the appropriate training. We also call on the Government to offer all people aged between 12 & 35 a simple ECG test, which could reduce the current death rate of 12 young people a week."

Please do take the time to sign this, and if you think you might already have signed it, just check.

I got involved in the Campaign for Carbon Monoxide Awareness after a losing a loved-one in an accidental poisoning and I know how hard it can be to get other people excited about your passion, particularly when it is a health related campaign. So hats off to everyone who was involved in the event this morning, you have much to be proud of, it is a great start!

Photo of defib training session from

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