Ten months after setting up a charity in memory of her tragic fiance, Louise Ayre said she has been completely overwhelmed by the local community’s response.
Louise was driving to sample wedding food last September when Adam Swanwick suffered an acute heart attack in the passenger seat, aged 28.
In November, she launched the ADAM Appeal with the aim of fundraising to provide defibrillators in community buildings, as well as an e-petition, calling on the Government to debate compulsory heart defect screenings in schools.
Tens of thousands of pounds has been raised and nine defibrillators have so far been installed by the charity, with several more lined up for schools once the new term starts in September.
Louise, 27, of Garstang, said: “It’s brilliant, it’s really great how far we’ve come since setting up in November.
“The people of Garstang in particular have been a great support with individuals, schools and businesses all wanting to get involved.
“It’s so important that we do this work. I didn’t realise just how important it was that we acted to provide equipment until Adam died, and now we have an opportunity to make a real difference.
“So it’s a great big thank you to everyone who has helped us so far.”
Among those who have helped are Will Hudson, who raised £1,000 by organising a charity football match at Preston North End’s Deepdale ground, Dawn Painter and Ryan Twiname who ran the Caldervale 10 mile race to raise £700 for a defibrillator for Garstang Community Primary School, and staff at The Kings Arms in Garstang.
Collinson PLC have also purchased a defibrillator through the ADAM Appeal. Yolanda Collinson of the company said: “We are proud of what the A.D.A.M Appeal are achieving and were keen to get this life saving equipment on our premises, so should the unthinkable happen during working hours, we would be equipped however we wanted local schools and sports clubs to benefit from the charity’s efforts so we were happy to pay for our kit in memory of Adam”.
Lostock Hall Academy have also raised funds for a defibrillator in their school by organising a charity football match and Cockerham Primary School received their defibrillator which was paid for through school funds.
Youngsters have also got in on the act, including 11-year-old Lottie Hulme, who raised £80 by cycling Preston’s Guild Wheel.
Louise added: “It’s been really tough for everyone involved, friends and family, and we’re not trying to save the world, but if we can help someone, then we will.
“I’ve found out recently that there are a lot of people in the same situation as me where their fiance or fiancee has died just before their wedding. It’s mental.”
According to the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), 12 people aged between 14 and 35 dying every week from an undiagnosed heart condition, and this has prompted the ADAM appeal to launch the call for compulsory screening.
Louise said: “Other charities with similar aims have prompted a Commons debate on the subject of screening and defibrillators in schools, but the Government just bat it away, saying it’s not necessary.
“I find it really frustrating. If Adam had been screened then things might have been different, but he was never given that chance.
“In years nine and 10, they give pupils injections for things like TB, so why don’t they include an ECG at the same time?”
Currently the North West Ambulance Service has been giving training on how to use the defibrillators, but future plans are for charity trustees to learn how to give the information sessions.