Pupils raise cash for defibrillator in memory of staff member who devoted 30 years to Sunderland school

Pupils at a Sunderland school have raised funds for a defibrillator in memory of a much-loved staff member who died suddenly.

Sunday, 25th April 2021, 7:00 am
St Joseph's Primary School defribrillator fundraiser following the death of a school staff member Christine Graham. Front from left Charlotte Dino, 11, Joseph Tudberry, 11 and Ruby Charlton, 10. Back from left Ryan Little, 10, Eloise King, 10, Samantha Chavez, 10 and Daniel Bijo, 11.

Christine Graham had been a lunch time supervisor and cleaner at St Joseph’s Primary School in Millfield for thirty years and was well known to countless families connected to the school and parish church.

On February 22 this year she’d just finished a lunchtime shift at the school when she collapsed in the street and died suddenly from an aortic aneurysm.

To honour the 67-year-old’s memory and to help others in the future, pupils took on a sponsored run to raise funds for a defibrillator which is being installed on the school gates.

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Christine Graham who passed away suddenly in February

Early years lead Lucy Teasdale said: “A defibrillator couldn’t have saved Christine’s life, sadly, but we wanted to do something to honour her memory. The defibrillator is on the outside of the school gates so it can be used by the whole community, even when the school is closed.

"Her death was such a shock because she was such a big part of the community.”

She added: “The children were really enthusiastic about the run. It was a great day and a great way of remembering Christine.”

Around £2,000 was raised in sponsorship money, with another £1,500 raised through a Just Giving page set up for the event.

St Joseph's Primary School defribrillator fundraiser following the death of a school staff member Christine Graham

The remaining amount after paying for the defibrillator is being donated to the Red Sky Foundation, which raises vital funds for babies and children with heart problems across North East England.

Lucy added: “We asked all the children to wear something red which is the colour of the Red Sky Foundation and they all practised at home beforehand. It was a great way of showing them how they can make a difference in their community.”

Sergio Petrucci, Founder of Red Sky Foundation, said: “We’re so pleased to be able to partner with St Joseph's, the children, staff and more in the community because their effort is literally helping to save lives in Millfield.

"We really hope the success of the children’s fundraising in memory of Christine will encourage other schools and communities to get in touch with us to make a positive impact in other locations across Sunderland

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