A new defibrillator has been installed in Sunderland after a school raised funds in memory of a much-loved member of staff.

Christine Graham worked at St Joseph’s Primary School, Millfield, as a lunchtime supervisor and cleaner for more than 30 years, but died suddenly in February after suffering an aortic aneurysm, shortly after finishing her shift.

A fundraising drive in her memory by staff, parents, and pupils, in conjunction with North East heart charity the Red Sky Foundation, resulted in a defibrillator being installed outside the school.

And sufficient money has now been raised to install a second – outside family-run funeral director’s John G Hogg at Martin Terrace, Pallion.

Along with agreeing to install the equipment at his premises, Mr. Hogg, whose team cared for Christine on her final journey, will be responsible for ensuring the defibrillator remains in good working order.

“I am delighted that we were chosen to be the custodian of the defibrillator,” said Mr. Hogg.

“I hope we do not ever have to use it, but it is reassuring that should someone locally suffer heart issues, then we know that this life saving equipment is in the Pallion community to help save people’s lives.”

The defibrillator was provided by Red Sky Foundation, which supports those with heart issues and their families and was installed free of charge by Chris Burnicle at Harry Burnicle Electrical and Mechanical Contractors.

Mr. Burnicle said his company was “proud to have partnered with Red Sky Foundation and John Hogg Funeral Directors to deliver this potentially life-saving equipment.

“Having suffered a cardiac arrest myself,” he said, “I understand the importance of having an accessible defibrillator and feel more confident knowing that it is out there ready to save the lives of others.”

Sergio Petrucci, the founder of the Red Sky Foundation, said: “Around 5000 people die in the North East from sudden cardiac arrest each year, so it is really important that people have access to these lifesaving pieces of equipment.”

Along with providing defibrillators to North East communities such as Pallion, The North East charity has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy vital equipment for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital, including a unique organ care transplant system.

It has also funded a specialist Fontan nurse post in the region, the first of its kind in the UK.

For more information, visit www.redskyfoundation.com

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