Village raises funds for defibrillator after pub regular dies

A defibrillator has been installed outside the White Hart in Bitton in memory of a pub regular who suffered a heart attack and died.

Ian Cook had been on a night out with his wife Judith and friends at the village pub on 24th March when he suffered a heart attack. Despite huge efforts to save him, the 78-year-old retired headteacher later died in hospital.

After hearing the sad news, resident Anna Palmer, with support from friends Carolyn Russell, Becky Feather, Claire Thorogood and Sue Wakefield, kicked off a fundraising campaign to buy the village an AED (automated external defibrillator).

From left, Anna Palmer, Jemma Smith and James Smith Picture credit: Carolyn Russell

A crowdfunding appeal raised £564.78, while a collection jar on the bar in the White Hart, along with the proceeds of a pub quiz night, yielded £1,047. Local resident Duncan Wilson also made a generous donation of £625.

The funds raised mean that as well as buying the defibrillator, which is now in a prominent position on the front of the pub, there was enough money for a brass plaque in Ian’s memory, and money left over for training and ongoing maintenance of the defibrillator.

After retiring from his job as a headteacher in Dorset, Ian had worked for a time at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Bridport. The couple moved to Oldland Common from Dorset 11 years ago to be closer to family, and Ian did some voluntary casework for the Royal British Legion in Bristol.

Judith said that she and her husband, who was a father-of-two and a grandfather, had been enjoying a lovely time with friends at the pub before his sudden death that night. She said she couldn’t thank landlord James Smith and others enough for trying to save him and that Ian would be absolutely delighted that something so positive had come about as a result of his death.

Anna Palmer said: “We are so proud that the whole community has come together to raise money for this vital lifesaving equipment, as well as its ongoing maintenance. Thank you so much to everyone who donated.”

White Hart landlady Jemma Smith said: “It’s amazing that everyone has pulled together to get the defibrillator. James and I are honoured and delighted to have been part of the Bitton defibrillator project. We hope that it will never be used but it is a true asset to the community.”

A defibrillator delivers an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a cardiac arrest. Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 10%.

Callers to the emergency services will be given the code to access the defibrillator, which is easy to use, but to give people confidence, an event is being held by St John Ambulance in the church hall in Bitton on Saturday 8th February from 10am to noon. Places have to be reserved and there will be a list on the noticeboard in the village shop for people to sign up.

This is the second time in a year that people in Bitton have shown great community spirit. Last December, after mask-wearing robbers targeted the Premier Express in the High Street, a Go Fund Me appeal was set up to help the family who run it the shop. The £1,000 target was quickly smashed and in total more than £3,000 was raised