THE last amount of cash from a life-saving appeal set up more than a quarter of a century ago has been handed over.
Hetton Heart Fund was created in 1988 by residents in the town to provide items for its GP service.
Since then, tens of thousands of pounds have been raised towards essential heart equipment such as defibrillators and electrocardiography machines.
More than 30,000 cardiac arrests are believed to happen outside of hospitals in the UK each year, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Ralph Foster, who helped set up the appeal with wife Ann, today told the Echo he felt it was the right time to pass on the remaining funds to Hetton Group Practice in Francis Way.
Charity nights at Hetton’s Big Club, Social Club, Brewers Arms and the Three Tuns pubs helped generate almost £40,000.
Mr Foster, 74, said: “We initially wanted to raise money for a defibrillator so that if it was ever needed, it would be there.
“But it just went on from there and we’ve had all sorts of events such as shows, football tournaments, sponsored slims and quizzes, all to raise a few pounds.”
Mr Foster added that another big source of donation had been in lieu of flowers at funerals.
The fund paid almost instant dividends after equipment bought by the fund saved one person.
“In the first year it saved one life,” Mr Foster added. “A man came up to the doctors and he wasn’t feeling well.
“But he then had a heart attack and got rushed to Sunderland Royal where he had a heart bypass operation.
“We can’t say how many lives the fund has saved but it’s certainly a few and that’s something we are proud of.”
The final payment from the fund has gone towards a blood pressure monitor while remaining cash will be spent on electrodes for the machines.
Practice manager at Hetton Group Practice, Julie Tumilty, said: “Thanks to Ralph and Ann for what they have done over the years because without the £40,000, we would not have been able to get all of that equipment. Thanks as well to everyone who donated.”
Mr Foster, who helped to fund-raise through appealing for money to customers using his coach business, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated big and small amounts.”