Defibrillator campaign comes to Roath Park

One of Wales’ leading heart charities is holding a sponsored walk around the lake

CALON Hearts is fundraising in Roath Park this Sunday, while raising awareness of several cardiac-related causes.

The money raised on the sponsored walk will go toward the charity’s Defibrillators for Cardiff Parks Appeal.

Charity founder, Sharon Owen, who was herself diagnosed with a heart condition at the age of 11, wants to see a defibrillator on every street corner in Wales.

“They should be mandatory. A lot of parks are now coming forward for them, but we want to see them everywhere.

“We use donations to try and reduce the cost of placing them. At the end of the day, they’re life-saving machines – so the more we have of them, the better.”

Earlier this month, the charity placed a public access defibrillator near Roath Park’s play area. It was dedicated to Luke Jenkins, a seven-year-old who died following a heart procedure in April 2012. The play area was his favourite place.

Roath Park’s new defibrilator was partly funded by a donation from Luke’s family

Calon Hearts, formerly Welsh Hearts, is also trying to increase the availability of heart screening – especially for young sportspeople.

Ms Owen was diagnosed with a mitral heart prolapse at the age of 11 after a routine check-up with her GP.

“It appeared to just be a chest infection that I couldn’t shake off. But then the GP took a look at a scan and, all of a sudden, he needed a second opinion.

“At the time, I was a fit, young dancer so it came as bit of a surprise.”

After this experience and the loss of close friends and family members, she was inspired to set up the charity.

“As athletes, we put a lot of pressure on our hearts, so I think it’s really important that we catch any underlying conditions.

“You can’t take a car for a drive without an MoT, why would we let people push their hearts without screening them?

“We do what we can to make screenings affordable with the donations that we get, but we could do so much more if we found an extra pot of gold.

“We lack the provisions seen in European countries like Italy and some of the Nordic states. I would love to see Wales lead the UK in fixing this.”

A petition to increase the availability of screenings for sportspeople aged 11-35 has collected at almost 2,000 signatures. If it reaches 10,000 names, it will be considered for a Senedd debate.

Wales boss, Warren Gatland, is among Calon Hearts’ supporters

In its 10 years, Calon Hearts says it has helped scan almost 7,000 hearts, placed over 22,000 defibrillators, and trained over 80,000 people in CPR.

“Our training is all about giving people the confidence they need to save a life.

“I can’t count how many times people have come up and told me after that it was easier than they thought.

“The most important thing is that people are just willing to have a go.”

  • Tickets are still available for Sunday’s Big Red Heart Walk around Roath Lake. It is £10 for adults and children go free. Walkers are meeting at the playground end of the lake at 11am.
  • The Senedd petition can be signed here
  • Other events being run by the charity, including a 2km Barry Island fun run on March 26, can be found here