A NEW public-access defibrillator has been installed at Alice Holt Forest – just months after a man suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the woodland beauty spot when first aiders discovered the defibrillator was behind locked doors.

The Aston Defibrillator Fund (ADF), a charity launched in 2019 in memory of Farnham man Keith Aston, has worked with Forestry England since the tragedy in March to site a 24/7 publicly-accessible defibrillator on the outside of the forest’s visitor centre.

And the urgency for this installation came to the fore after the on-pitch emergency viewed by thousands at the 2020 European Football Championships, in which rapid defibrillation played a critical part in Danish player Christian Eriksen’s survival.

Jonathan McGloin, recreation manager at Alice Holt Forest, said: “We have worked closely with the Aston Defibrillator Fund and would like to thank them for their support in helping us ensure a defibrillator is now accessible 24 hours a day.

“The safety of our visitors is a priority and all of our staff are trained in first aid and the use of specialist equipment. We will continue to make visitors aware of how to access this and other emergency help if needed.”

Joanna Michaelides, a trustee of the ADF, praised Jonathan for his proactive and helpful manner in securing this installation. She went on to stress that defibrillators were easy to use and anyone can and should use it in cases where anyone collapses.

They guide the rescuer through CPR if appropriate and dramatically improve the chances of a full and fast recovery for anyone suffering a cardiac arrest.

The ADF’s ambitious goal to make Farnham, and the surrounding area, the safest place in England to suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest has been slowed by the pandemic. But interest continues to grow in the community project, and it is hoped momentum will continue to build after the Alice Holt launch.

Keith Harris, another ADF trustee, said: “We are all very proud to be part of this community project and encourage more local organisations to get involved and for every one of us not to be a bystander.”

Any local business, individual, or local resident group wishing to help, or to financially support the Aston Defibrillator Fund, are encouraged to make contact via the ADF website at www.astondefibs.org.uk