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Defibrillator installed in disused village phone box

PUBLISHED: 14:56 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:56 18 April 2018

Rev Christine Wheeler, David Burrage, Carol Willet, Phil Shreeve, George Willet, John Mitchell, Alison McTaggart, Neil Story, Fred Sharman (chair, parish council), Andrew Wright. Picture: Alison McTaggart

Rev Christine Wheeler, David Burrage, Carol Willet, Phil Shreeve, George Willet, John Mitchell, Alison McTaggart, Neil Story, Fred Sharman (chair, parish council), Andrew Wright. Picture: Alison McTaggart

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A disused phone box in a village near Great Yarmouth has undergone a potentially life-saving conversion.

Rev Christine Wheeler, preparing to cut the ribbon to open the defibrillator in the phone box in Repps with Bastwick. Picture: Alison McTaggartRev Christine Wheeler, preparing to cut the ribbon to open the defibrillator in the phone box in Repps with Bastwick. Picture: Alison McTaggart

While phone boxes may have little place in modern society, the need for defibrillators is ever increasing, and Repps with Bastwick Parish Council were inspired to make the conversion after a representative from the Heart 2 Heart Foundation held a CPR session in the village hall.

Alison McTaggart, parish councillor, said: “It sparked with a lot of people and the parish council decided this would be a good thing to go ahead with because it was an ideal time as our phone box had just been closed down.

“So we bought the phone box and we received a lot of support from our local village.

“We received two very generous donations from people in our village which amounted to well over three quarters of the funds that we required.

“The whole thing cost £2,000 so I think it was incredibly generous.”

The defibrillator became live in January but the council waited until Thursday 12 to officially open it in a fairer season - unfortunately though, the ribbon cutting was a misty affair.

But already, the village has had cause to be grateful for its new addition.

Miss McTaggart said: “Since its been installed people have been delighted because there have been a couple of false starts where we’ve called the ambulance service and the codes to get into the box and get the defib have all worked.

“I think it is very good news for the village because we area long way from the doctors surgery.

“Plus we are, as across most of Norfolk, a rather old age group.

“We don’t have much in the village, so to have the safety net in that phone box, which is in the centre of the village next to the playing field, is very important.”

So far, 12 people in the village have been trained to use the defibrillator by reverend and first responder, Christine Wheeler.

At the opening ceremony, Rev Wheeler cut the ribbon - donning both of her hats, as advised by Miss McTaggart.

Miss McTaggart said: “You’re obviously here as a first responder and as a trainer, but as a priest you can bless it and hope that it will never be used.”

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