Cllr Ingram joined the Henderson family, Jess Duncan from St John Scotland, Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Mick Dickie from FPM and Scott Strachan from FES

All secondary schools in East Ayrshire receive defibrillators thanks to fundraising by local family

All secondary schools in East Ayrshire have had defibrillators installed thanks to St John Scotland and fundraising by the family and friends of Laura Henderson, who tragically died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2021.

Laura, who was originally from Stewarton, was extremely active and just 42 years old when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest after a park run. People around her tried their very best to help her, but Laura never regained consciousness and passed away peacefully a few days later. The Henderson family, Laura’s friends and her colleagues from Tennent’s Brewery in Glasgow, began fundraising for public access defibrillators to create a lasting legacy in her name. 

St John Scotland has supported the family to install the defibrillators throughout East Ayrshire, including The Centre in Stewarton, the Robert Burns World Federation headquarters and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Kilmarnock. They have also been working with the Council to ensure that defibrillators installed in educational facilities are outside and available for 24/7 use by the public.

Councillor Neal Ingram, East Ayrshire Council’s Spokesperson for Community Safety, Roads and Transportation and Community Cohesion said: “Losing Laura was a terrible tragedy that is still felt keenly by her family, her friends and colleagues. They have taken the terrible pain of her loss and created a lasting legacy in Laura’s name through the installation of public access defibrillators and now the installation of defibrillators in all of our secondary schools.  

“I was honoured to meet Laura’s parents Nora and James Henderson, her brother Daren and her niece Leah, and to let them know how much I admire their strength and their drive, working so hard to help other local families.

“Thanks also go to colleagues from Facilities and Property Management, Health and Safety and our contractors FES FM and Mitie PFI who installed the units free of charge.”

Marcie Noble of Tennent Caledonian Breweries UK Ltd (C & C Group) said: “Laura has left behind an extraordinary legacy. It brings me immense joy to be present in this moment and see the plaque dedicated to Laura beside the defibrillators.”

The Chair of St John Scotland Ayrshire and Arran, Jess Duncan, said: ''St John Scotland Ayrshire and Arran was delighted to work with East Ayrshire Council on this initiative. Thanks go to Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Chief Education Officer and Head of Education who, when approached, was hugely supportive of the proposal to make all existing defibrillators within secondary schools available for public access. 

“Around 70 people have a cardiac arrest each week in Scotland, and sadly, only one in ten survive. Performing CPR and using a defibrillator within the first few minutes of collapse can greatly increase the chances of survival. Access to a defibrillator can make all the difference and could save a life. It is a real pleasure working with this very special family and with Marcie Noble and her colleagues from Tennents, whose fundraising efforts are quite remarkable.''