Norwich school’s defibrillator thanks to mum’s efforts

Leigh Smith, who is campaigning for defibrillators to be put into schools. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Leigh Smith, who is campaigning for defibrillators to be put into schools. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

A Golden Triangle school has been given a defibrillator thanks to the efforts of a mum whose baby died from a rare heart condition.

Beatrice Octavia Iris Smith, who died at just 12 weeks old. She had heart failure caused by restrict

Beatrice Octavia Iris Smith, who died at just 12 weeks old. She had heart failure caused by restrictive cardiomyopathy. - Credit: Archant

Leigh Smith has been passionate about the issue of cardiac disease awareness in children and the lack of defibrillators in schools since losing her baby daughter Beatrice to a rare heart condition a year ago.

The 33-year-old nominated her local school, Recreation Road Infant School, to receive one of national charity Hand on Heart's defibrillators and it arrived this month.

Mrs Smith, whose son Elliott goes to the school, said: 'Despite the fact that Beatrice never required the use of one, my experience of the devastation that cardiac disease can have in children has highlighted the importance of getting this message out into the wider community.

'In my opinion every school and public place should have access to a defibrillator.'

The automatic external defibrillator (AED) package, worth £2,000, comes with pads for both children and adults and can be used on children over the age of one.


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Hand on Heart will also provide training for staff at the school on how to use the AED, and CPR training for up to 30 pupils.

Mrs Smith, who lives in Warwick Street, said: 'I was overwhelmed that my nomination had been chosen and its another amazing way that Beatrice's positive legacy lives on. Medical experts believe many children could be saved if an automated external defibrillator (AED) is used within minutes of a collapse. However, there is currently no national system in place in the UK to ensure AEDs are present and in working order in schools.'

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The family have been fundraising for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) and its nook appeal to build a new hospice in Norfolk.

They also set up the Beatrice Octavia Iris Smith Brighter Future Fund to raise £43,000 towards equipment for Great Ormond Street Hospital and have so far raised around £37,000.

Hand on Heart aims to give two defibrillators every month to schools and helps many more to fundraise towards buying their own defibrillator.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright is supporting Mrs Smith's campaign and today will use the final Prime Minister's Questions of this Parliament to highlight the family's experiences, and to call for defibrillators and life-saving training in all schools.

To nominate a school,or find out more about the charity, visit www.handonheart.org.

Do you have a story about someone who was saved by a defibrillator? Call reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772474.

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