Friendly Society makes £1,800 lifesaving donation

A friendly society has provided the potentially life-saving funding necessary to install a defibrillator which will service the Coleford community.

The North Gloucestershire Branch of the Oddfellows has provided £1,800 so that a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) could be installed and placed on the outside entrance to Dora Matthews House, an Extra Care service for older people run by national charity Ambient Support.

Dora Matthews House successfully applied to the Oddfellows to fund the PAD, which has provided the money for several similar pieces of equipment in the past few years in the Gloucestershire area.

The Branch also provides free equipment training and ongoing support to successful applicants.

Alex Walker, Development Officer for North Gloucestershire Oddfellows, said: “We are delighted to have funded this vital piece of equipment that the community can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“As a friendly society at the heart of our community, it is important to us that the people in our local area are safe and secure, whether they are members or not.”

The defibrillator is positioned so it can be clearly seen by people in the community who may need to use it in an emergency. It is also registered on ‘The Circuit’ for public use – the British Heart Foundation’s national network of accessible PADs.

Julie Element, Manager at Ambient Support’s Dora Matthews House, who applied to the Oddfellows, said: “We are very conscious that the current crisis in the NHS, including strikes and increasing ambulance response times, could have dire consequences for the elderly people we support. A defibrillator can help us keep a person alive until the emergency services arrive.

“Part of the criteria was that the defibrillator must be in a public place and Dora Matthews House is situated in the heart of our community. We are next to Parkside, an area of approximately 42 flats and bungalows, which has a part time warden, so we are surrounded by an elderly population.

“We were thrilled to win the application and the whole team is incredibly thankful to the Oddfellows as it benefits the people we support, our care team, and the surrounding community. Just knowing it’s there helps peace of mind.”

A defibrillator is an advanced medical tool that delivers a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall. In cardiac arrest, quick intervention using a defibrillator can more than double the chances of a person’s survival.

Ernie Priest, a tenant supported by Ambient at Dora Matthews House, said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea. It makes us feel a little bit safer to know that if one of us suffered a cardiac arrest we would have a better chance of pulling through it with this equipment.

“We’re very grateful to the Oddfellows and to our wonderful care team at Dora Matthews House for making it happen.” 

The Oddfellows’ North Gloucester Branch is one of 103 branches nationwide and is part of one of the largest and oldest friendly societies in the UK. Its aim is to help improve the quality of people’s lives through friendship, care and charity.

Alex added: “I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about our friendship group’s activities to get in touch and come along to one of our many brilliant social events and see what else the Society has to offer.”

Dora Matthews House is an Extra Care service situated in Coleford which offers housing to over 55-year-olds who wish to live an independent life but may need some assistance with daily living and support. Singles and couples can be accommodated.


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