Heartstart Thatcham closing after 8 years
HEARTSTART Thatcham has announced that it is closing following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.
The charity launched in May 2013 with the aim of teaching British Heart Foundation's Heartstart courses, covering CPR and other lifesaving skills, to 100 people a year.
It has held more than 160 training sessions since, teaching more than 2,000 people those vital skills.
Trustees have now taken "the very difficult decision" to close the charity.
Scheme co-ordinator Dr Nick Young said: "This has been one of the most difficult decisions for us to make and the decision is for a number of factors, not just Covid-19.”
Heartstart Thatcham extended its mission brief in 2014 to install public access defibrillators around Thatcham.
The first was installed at the Henwick Worthy playing fields that October, and more than 60 across the district have been placed since.
Some of the defibrillators have been deployed and people attending the courses have used their skills, with some going into medical professions as a result.
Dr Young said: "The bottom line is that we have had a fantastic set of instructors and volunteers and supporters that have made this incredible achievement over the last eight years and we are all incredibly proud and grateful for their time and skills. Their hard work, to put it simply, we know has and will continue to save lives.”
Dr Young said that fundraising had been difficult during lockdowns and that it had been difficult to find volunteers before the pandemic struck, along with the number of people on courses declining.
But he said that the charity had worked with many community groups and councils to spread its aim - training more people than initially hoped for and making CPR a topic for discussion.
Medical director for Heartstart Thatcham David Hamer said “For the last eight years Heartstart Thatcham has fundraised, trained members of the public in Basic Life Support and use of an AED and installed AEDs to a number of sites across West Berkshire. None of this would have been possible without the excellent training team we have and the leadership of our scheme coordinator Nick.
"Whilst this has been a very hard decision for all involved, we feel it is the right one and we hope the legacy of Public Access AEDs and training we leave behind will be of use and hopefully save many lives in the years to come.”
Some of the team will continue to teach CPR and other skills in other capacities in the community.