I want to raise as much as I can and provide a new defibrillator

I want to raise as much as I can and provide a new defibrillator

14 September 2016

PHARMACIST Shane O’Hare is preparing to swim across Strangford Lough next month as part of an ambitious fundraising initiative to help save lives.

The 40 year-old will swim from Portaferry to Strangford on October 22 to raise money to purchase a new defibrillator for the village which the public will have 24-hour access to.

Shane plans to clock up the miles at the Down Leisure Centre swimming pool in the run-up to his swim and has set himself a target of raising £2,000. If he raises more, he hopes to be able to purchase a second defibrillator for Kilclief.

The device provides emergency medical assistance to people who have had a cardiac arrest by delivering a small electric shock to help restart the heart.

Community pharmacist Shane has raised over £600 to date and is delighted with the donations and support he has received via social media. His rigorous training regime includes 128 lengths of the Downpatrick pool during his training sessions and is keen to raise as much cash as he can.

A keen swimmer, Shane knows the icy cold waters of Strangford Lough will be significantly more challenging than the calm surroundings of the Downpatrick pool where he is training, but he’s up for the task ahead.

The picturesque waterway can be particularly dangerous at times, given the currents which pose major problems for mariners, let alone swimmers. Acutely aware of this, Shane revealed his fundraising swim has been timed to coincide with high tide.

“The currents should not be as bad at this stage and while there may be a few, I am hoping to make it across. I am not setting myself a time, I just want to get across, raise as much as I can and provide a new defibrillator,” he explained.

Given Strangford’s location, Shane explained the lifesaving device will have to be housed in a marine-standard housing which will require an electrical feed. He aims to work with local planners to identify the most appropriate location in the village.

Seven years ago, Shane taught himself to swim and admits while he faces a challenging task on October 22, it is one he will be prepared for.

“People have been very supportive so far and I hope I will be able to reach my £2,000 target,” he continued. “Last year, a man who lives across from the pharmacy required CPR and the thing about heart attacks is that they can strike at any time and without warning.

“As a community pharmacist, I am only too aware of the needs of the village. We’re a rural area and cardiac events are not uncommon. Quick access to a defibrillator can be the difference between life and death.”

Shane believes it is vitally important to have an easily accessible defibrillator in the village, given its high percentage of elderly people.

“Heart attacks are not unusual and I believe it is important that people who suffer one have every chance to survive and access to a defibrillator will help. I am delighted with the money I have raised so far and hope others will support my fundraiser,” he continued. “Once the defibrillator is in place people will know where to go should an emergency arise.”

Shane believes access to the lifesaving devices are something every community should have and hopes people in Strangford and the surrounding area will support his initiative.

He added: “My aim is to raise enough money for a new defibrillator for the village and if I raise more than my £2,000 target, I would like to use the money to provide one in Kilclief.”

To make a donation go to Shane’s JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/strangford-defib