Everton legend Graeme Sharp helped to celebrate the launch of a new scheme to give every primary school in Liverpool a lifesaving defibrillator, as part of a campaign in memory of a young Everton fan who died of a heart condition.
The £102,000 project is believed to be the first scheme of its type in the country and will see the lifesaving devices fitted in 122 schools over the next academic year, with training also provided to staff.
It follows the death of Oliver King, who died during a swimming lesson from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), which kills 12 young people across the country every week.
The Oliver King Foundation, launched in his memory in January 2012, aims to get the Government to install defibrillators in all public buildings by 2017. It is also calling for ECG scans to be given to all 14 – 35 year olds so that they can be screened for the potentially fatal condition.
Sharp joined Oliver’s dad, Mark King as he handed over the first defibrillator to Pinehurst Primary School in Anfield today, and presented an Everton shirt to the charity to show the Club’s support for the scheme.
Sharp said: “It’s a massive step forward for the defibrillators to be fitted in every primary school in the city. The OK Foundation are carrying out truly incredible work to try and prevent another family suffering such a tragedy.”
Olympic Boxer Natasha Jonas, Lord Mayor Councillor Sharon Sullivan, Councillor Jake Morrison and a representative from Liverpool Football Club were also among the guests who launched 122 balloons into the sky with pupils to represent each primary school in the city.
Oliver’s dad Mark said: “I am delighted that primary schools in the city are having defibrillators fitted.This is fantastic news and I firmly believe that it will help save lives.
“We must do all we can to raise awareness of SADS and prevent as many deaths as we can. There are no warning signs and it could happen to anyone’s child.
“We need to have defibrillators in all public buildings to make sure that Oliver’s death was not in vain.”
An e-petition calling on Government to debate the dangers of SADS in the House of Commons has received thousands of signatures, but many more are needed. It can be found by visiting www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29399.
For more information about the Oliver King Foundation, visit www.theoliverkingfoundation.co.uk.