New defibrillator could help save lives thanks to National Lottery grant

Paramedic Andy Thomas (left) from CIPHER Medical (Who have supplied the AED) and right Michael Donkin, managing director of Evolution Fitness.
Paramedic Andy Thomas (left) from CIPHER Medical (Who have supplied the AED) and right Michael Donkin, managing director of Evolution Fitness.

Life-saving equipment will now be on hand for residents of a Wearside town thanks to a Lottery grant.

The Big Lottery Fund, from the National Lottery, has awarded Houghton community gym Evolution Fitness a grant in order to expand its services to residents.

A total of £1,500 of the grant will be used to buy an AED (automated external defibrillator), which will be housed outside of the building in case it is ever needed, not just by service users but also the wider community.

The purchase coincides with Restart a Heart Day, staged this week, and the equipment will be registered with the North East Ambulance Service for anyone locally calling 999 to report a heart attack.

Evolution Fitness managing director Michael Donkin said: “Getting funding from the National Lottery is a huge achievement.

“It shows that the work we do as a community interest company has been recognised.

“The AED we are purchasing will be wall mounted outside of our facility meaning in the event of a cardiac emergency it will be available to the wider public even when we’re closed.

“This will be the only community access defibrillator in Houghton town centre and although we hope it’s never needed, early defibrillation during a cardiac arrest can raise a person’s chances of survival from 6% to 70% so it could literally be a lifesaver.”

While Evolution Fitness operate its main gym site in Newbottle Street in Houghton, which is available to everyone, the Lottery grant has given the community interest company the ability to expanded its additional support of using fitness as a way of tackling obesity, sedentary lifestyle and mental health issues such as depression.

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK and aims to help people improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.

It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes.

Last year it awarded £583million and supported around 12,000 projects across for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.