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Free CPR and Defib training following donation of 5 defibrillators by Connolly’s Spar

Conor and Sinead Connolly, Connolly’s Spar, Ballymena.

After a recent fundraising drive raised £7,500, the team at Connolly’s Spar donated five defibrillator devices to local groups and businesses, and tonight will launch the first free CPR and Defib training event.

Sinead and her husband Conor run the Spar store located in Dunclug, Ballymena, and were inspired to fundraise in an effort to save lives after Sinead’s own personal near fatal experience.

When the local lady felt ill on the morning of 28 October 2020, little did she know her heart would stop just hours later.

Luckily for Sinead, she was in the right place at the right time when she went into cardiac arrest, and paramedics and the rapid response medics were able to bring her back in the ambulance on the way to Antrim Area Hospital.

Sinead was diagnosed with Sudden Death Syndrome, a diagnosis that can often come all too late for those who may not be near an essential piece of kit when their heart stops with no warning.

Sinead commented:

“What happened to me could happen to anyone and over 90% of people who have a cardiac arrest do not survive it. I didn’t know I had this condition until my heart stopped, and I was just so lucky to be in the back of an ambulance when it happened after deteriorating throughout the day and the quick thinking of my husband. I was shocked with the defib, they got me back and I spent three weeks in hospital having an Ablation procedure to fix the electrical fault in my heart.

“My husband Conor and I run the local SPAR in Dunclug, and as part of SPAR NI’s Heart of the Community campaign to install Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) outside their stores across Northern Ireland, we decided the anniversary of my cardiac arrest would be the perfect time to fundraise with the community to get one for outside our store.

Little did Sinead and Conor realise just how much her story had resonated with the community, and with their support and through a 12-hour ‘spinathon’ in store, online fundraising and bucket collections one year to the day of her cardiac arrest, they had raised enough for their own AED at the store, as well as four others which have now been donated throughout the community.

Sinead continued: “We have donated defibrillators to the SureStart Playgroup and The Harmony Hub in Ballymena, Healthy Kidz in Portadown, and one has also gone to the All Saints Youth Club which provides so many programmes for young people, as well as a space for the Geraldine Donnelly School of Irish Dancing and the All Saints Boxing Club.

“Then of course the fifth is installed outside our store and available to the community 24/7. We hope that these defibrillators never need to be used, however it is so important that people in our local community know they are there should they need them for a colleague, friend or family member.”

The AEDs are user friendly, and will be registered with The Circuit, the new National Defibrillator Network launched by the British Heart Foundation in partnership with the NHS, Microsoft and UK Ambulance Services to connect every device to its local ambulance service and the public, enabling even faster response times and more lives saved.

Now as promised, Sinead and Conor have organised the FREE CPR Training within the community which will help train and give confidence to others if presented with a life-saving opportunity.

The training workshops are scheduled to take place this evening, Tuesday 1st, and tomorrow evening, Wednesday 2 February, from 7pm - 9.30pm at the Ballymena North Centre.

Numbers are limited to 20 per night.

If you would like to attend, please call into Connolly’s Spar, and leave your name and contact number.

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