'˜People have been amazingly generous'

The organisers of a campaign to raise funds to buy life-saving defibrillators for a number of local schools have thanked all those who donated so generously.

Tuesday, 7th November 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:35 am
The Anderson family - Tom, Heidi, Mary, Tess and Kate - receive a cheque for £6,450 from fundraising campaign organisers Karen Long (second from right) and Gary Barlow (right). The money was raised in memory of the Andersons' eldest daughter Isobel, who tragically passed away in September this year.

The fundraising campaign, set up in response to the tragic death of local schoolgirl Isobel Anderson, raised more than £6,400 in just a month.

The money will be used to provide defibrillators, associated equipment and training for several local schools.

The trio behind the fundraising campaign - Dromore residents Gary Barlow, Karen Long and Seamus Greene - have thanked all those who supported the fundraising campaign.

Gary set up the campaign’s JustGiving page, while Karen, who is a supervisor at the town’s SuperValu store, organised a number of in-store fundraising activities which contributed more than £1,600 to the overall total.

“People have been amazingly generous. We had donations from people in Dromore, Banbridge, Lisburn and other areas. We had donations from Scotland, England and everywhere. It’s been incredible,” Gary told the Leader.

“We initially set out to raise £2,500 and we reached that in just 22 hours. With the JustGiving page you have to keep it open for a minimum of a month so we left it open for the month and in the end the total on the JustGiving page was £4,840. Along with the money SuperValu Dromore raised the total was £6,450.”

Seamus, who works for HeartSine Technologies, has used his connections to source Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), associated equipment and training for the various schools.

“Seamus has been doing all the behind the scenes work to get us all the systems and training in place. He has been the unsung hero,” Gary explained.

The 46-year-old Stena Line employee, whose daughter Taylor was a friend of Isobel’s, explained why he and his neighbours decided to set up the fundraising campaign.

“You feel like you want to do something, but there is not much you can do in the circumstances. Everyone was saying things like ‘I wonder if they’d had this or that would it have helped’, so we thought someone has to do it, so between myself, Karen and Seamus we said ‘Right, let’s get the money raised and get some defibrillators into the local area’. We hope that they are never needed, but it’s better to have them and never need them.”

With their fundraising complete, Gary and Karen were able to present Isobel’s family - parents Tom and Heidi and sisters Mary, Tess and Kate - with a cheque for £6,450.

The money will be used to purchase life-saving equipment and/or training for Rainbow Nursery, Dromore Nursery School, St Colman’s Primary School, Dromore Central Primary School and Dromore High School.

“Some of the schools - four of them - are getting defibrillators, some already had defibrillators but need training, some need cabinets for their defibrillators,” Gary continued. “We are also looking for other places within the area that might need something similar - training, new batteries or whatever.”

Praising the Anderson family, who despite their devastation and grief at losing their beloved Isobel have publicly backed the fundraising effort, he added: “They have been so amazing, supporting everything that is being done. They have been brilliant.

“We just want to thank the people of the town and surrounding areas for their amazing generosity.

“A lot of people have been asking ‘How much did you get?’ and we just want to let people know how much support we got, how much we raised and that their money - every single penny of it - is going to a very good cause in the local area.”