Hospital hosts golden celebration for local charity

Dame Katherine Grainger and Millie Roberts, 10, unveil the defibrillator

by Alex Cameron

Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger cut a gold ribbon at an Oxfordshire hospital to celebrate a landmark achievement for a local charity.

The London 2012 gold medallist joined 10-year-old Millie Roberts for a ceremony at Townlands Memorial Hospital, Henley-on-Thames, to unveil the 50th community defibrillator to be installed by charity Millie’s Dream.

Millie’s Dream was founded in September 2013 and was the inspiration of brave Henley girl Millie, who was born with a heart condition called congenital paroxysmal atrial tachycardia.

The defibrillator was provided by Millie’s Dream and was installed at no cost to the charity with the help of NHS Property Services, which holds the head lease on the £10 million building on behalf of the NHS.

Millie’s original ‘dream’ was to raise money to enable life-saving defibrillators to be installed in all schools in Henley and the surrounding area, and provide an education package for all pupils and staff on how to use them and what to do in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.

The dream came true within 12 months, so the charity expanded its aims for the benefit of the wider local community, providing the defibrillators in bespoke external boxes in surrounding villages, hamlets and sports halls.

The device, unveiled on 7 February, was installed at the front of Townlands Memorial Hospital is the charity’s 50th community box.

Millie’s mother Sarah said: “It’s wonderful to celebrate this superb achievement. We would like to thank everyone who has supported the charity and we are thrilled that the hospital and local people have access to this life-saving piece of equipment.”

Mark Harrison, Senior Facilities Management Business Manager at NHS Property Services, said: “Millie’s Dream is an inspirational local charity and we’re very proud that Townlands Memorial Hospital is now home to the 50th community box to be installed.”

Dame Katherine, who lives near Henley, is the first British woman to win medals at five successive Olympic games – with silver at Rio 2016 and gold at London 2012 to add to her silver medals from Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008. She is vice patron of the charity and Millie’s Godmother.

Also attending the ceremony were Geraldine Watkins, Godmother to Millie, and charity supporter; vice patron Lord Remnant; vice patron Susanne Stickley, director First Aid Matters and a paramedic and electrician Dan Scott, who donates his skills to help with the installation process.

A defibrillator is a medical device used in an emergency that delivers an electrical current through the chest which aims to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm allowing it to restart and pump again.

To use the device in an emergency, call 999 and follow the instructions from the ambulance service, who will provide a code to access the machine.

For more about the charity, visit the Millie’s Dream Facebook page.