Eight sports clubs have received defibrillators in a scheme championed by Craigavon Cardiac Care Association (CCCA).
It is part of the group’s campaign to resuscitate heart victims after a number of highly-publicised sudden deaths of young sports people.
The machines cost £1,000 each and the money for this project was raised through the Charlie Lavery Memorial Fund, with the late Charlie having been a keen supporter of Portadown Rugby Club and Tir na nOg GAA Club.
Charlie, proprietor of Lavery Transport, died at the rugby club gym. The money was raised by his family through a number of projects, including a match using half-rugby half-GAA rules, a barbecue, his daughters running a half-marathon and a dinner at the rugby club.
The defibrillators were presented at Craigavon Area Hospital on Thursday night. Deaths of well-known local sports people include young GAA footballer Stephen Lyness from The Beeches, Portadown, who died on his 18th birthday in 2004.
The clubs who received the defibrillators were – Portadown Rugby Club, Tir na nOg Gaelic Athletic Club, One Fitness, Skye Fitness, Portadown Tennis Club, Portadown Boat Club, Loughgall Football Club and Glenavon Youth Academy.
CCCA has also trained 40 people in the use of the machines and they have passed their skills along the line in their various clubs.
Said David Smith, under 16 coach at Tir na nOg, “We have 14 teams, from under five to the seniors, and we really appreciate this gesture.
“We received one some time ago from the Stephen Lyness Memorial Fund and we are building up a network so that we can take them to ‘away’ matches where clubs don’t have a defibrillator. We have 300 children in our club and their welfare is vital.”
Stephen died of the mystery SADS (Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome). Said Rodney Wiggins of the CCCA, “The defibrillators are just part of our projects – but a very important one. We are grateful for the continued support.”