Grieving mum’s pain and hope after 29-year-old daughter’s ‘sudden’ death

A mum is pushing for defibrillators to be installed in her town following the tragic death of her daughter.

Gilly Atkinson has been trying to help ‘as much as possible’ after losing her daughter, Laura West, in April last year.

Laura, 29, had been swimming at Lancaster University swimming pool when tragedy struck.

Sadly, she suffered a ‘sudden’ cardiac arrest and died.

After fundraising enough to install 10 defibrillators in Fleetwood in Lancashire, Gilly, 51, is now pushing to install 10 in Poulton-le-Fylde, before heading onto Thornton Cleveleys alongside Wyre and Fylde Community Defibrillators.

Gilly said the defibrillators are all ‘up and running’ and registered with North West Ambulance service.

“Three of them have been used already since they’ve been put in place,” she added.

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“We’re onto Poulton now. The main reason why I wanted to choose Poulton is because when I first moved here in 1995, its only a little town but there is so many that come to Poulton especially on weekends and there is only two fitted here.

“Even the businesses don’t realize they’re there. Its quite scary really, in the case of a cardiac arrest or a heart attack, that people might not know where to go to grab a unit.

“We’ve decided to move into Poulton, and as we’ve got 10 for Fleetwood, our main aim now is to get 10 for Poulton.”

Public access defibrillators cost around £1200 and they’ve raised enough to cover three already.

Gilly said: “We’ve been really throwing ourselves at this, and our next event is for my daughter’s 30th birthday and its being held in the Stocks and Shilling in Poulton.”

Laura tragically died last year

Wyre and Fylde community defibrillators fundraising are hosting a list of fundraising events in the coming months such as a family fun day at Dolly’s Kiosk in Fleetwood on April 16.

In the works, they have plans for a Psychic Night in April (date to be confirmed), a fun day in June in the market square in Poulton, as well as CPR and defibrillator training days too with a qualified paramedic who is offering his services to the campaign.

“Its been amazing, there has been so much community support but it’s still not enough,” Gilly said, “it sounds awful but we still need as much help and support as possible.”

“We are trying to do as much as we can to hit our target before we move onto cleveleys, we need to get as much out there to get the community spirit going, to get our name out there and to get us much help and support as possible just to get the awareness out there.”

“Cardiac arrests aren’t just for the elderly, years ago people used to think its just older people that would have heart attacks or a cardiac arrest, and there’s two different types of heart problems.

“My daughter was only 29 and we didn’t know she had a heart problem and unfortunately she isn’t here now.

CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young – are a charity which aims to prevent young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research, as well as supporting families who are affected.

CRY offer screenings for anybody who has a history of heart problems in their family, they can be checked out to check for underlying issues and it can save lives, Lances Live reports.

“Its so unfortunate that we are losing all these people where CRY could screen them and possibly save lives,” she added.

“I just want to shout out from the rooftops and get it out there, there is just not enough defibrillators.

Gilly Atkinson and one of the defibrillators installed in Fleetwood

“if we could get millions of defibrillators out there, I would love to, but its so hard to just raise enough money for one. So, if people can help us and share our story, get onto our page, and share our page and help with our funding, it would be amazing.”

You can follow the Wyre and Fylde community defibrillators fundraising page here where they post their latest fundraisers.

To donate to their JustGiving page, click here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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