Businessman and boxing fan steps in to donate defibrillator to Team Shoe-Box gym
The sight of footballer Christan Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch while playing for Denmark in Euro 2020 sent shockwaves around the world.
There were distressing scenes as the midfielder, who plays his club football for Internazionale in Italy, collapsed in the first half of his team’s opening match with Finland.
Mercifully, thanks to speedy actions of the medical staff, and crucially the use of a defibrillator, Eriksen was saved and is now well on the road back to full health.
But it was a reminder that a cardiac arrest, when the heart simply ceases to beat, can happen to anybody at any time.
It is reported that more than 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest every year in the UK.
It is not always possible for the paramedics to arrive quickly, which means it is even more important that more and more people have access to a defibrillator, especially at sports clubs where people are there to physically exert themselves.
But there simply aren’t enough of them.
And a local business owner, who has recently donated a defibrillator to the Team Shoe-Box gym on Harlestone Road in Northampton, believes it is crucial that more companies step in to help sports clubs attain one.
Luke Fallon co-owns Fed 3, a construction project management consultancy in Northampton, and to keep fit he likes to ‘mess around and do some boxing pad work’.
He was already a sponsor of Team Shoe-Box, the gym set up in early 2020 by boxing coach James Conway, and worked out at the gym’s regular fitness sessions when a serious heart scare for his business partner Tony Entwistle got him thinking.
“Lockdown happened and I put on a shed load of weight, and I thought I must get back into boxing,” said Fallon.
“At the same time, my business partner Tony, who had similarly put on a few pounds, went up to play five-a-side football at Goals at Mereway, and had a cardiac arrest.
“He is 46 now, thought he was still a young man and able to drink a few pints at night, and his heart say ‘no, no, we’re not having that’!
“But he was really lucky, as there was a fireman also playing football that night and another guy who had just been trained the day before on a defibrillator.
“So if it wasn’t for those people, and the fact there was a defibrillator at Goals, then he would have been a goner. They think he was dead for about a minute.
“They brought him round, a defibrillator was used, a kiss of life, and the ambulance arrived and he was in John Radcliffe in Oxford for a couple of weeks.
“So with that happening, and the first session of me getting back into training at the gym, I started talking to James about a defibrillator, and he said it is soon going to be mandatory for all gyms to have one.
“So I straight away offered to pay for one.
“It is a story that all comes together, and if I do have a cardiac arrest while in the gym, which it often feels I am about to, then I am glad to know it is there.”
“James and the team here do loads of great stuff for the community, and I am just glad to help out.”
The main issue for clubs is that defibrillators are not cheap, coming in at a starting price of around £1,000, and with gyms and sports clubs already stretched for funding, Fallon believes more businesses should step in to help if they can.
“I don’t think there is that much funding for defibrillators, and you have to fork out for it,” he said.
“People like James don’t do this to make loads of money, so I am happy to help and provide a defibrillator. It’s not cheap though, and I think there should be more support for sports clubs.
“You do tend to see defibrillators around now, but I think we need to see them in a lot more places, especially in sports clubs.
“It’s a no-brainer really, especially with people coming out of lockdown and saying ‘I must get into a gym’, it just seems to me it should be mandatory, but that is then putting pressure on clubs that don’t make much money.
"So it is key that businesses are able to help fund them if they can.
“I have an interest in boxing which is why we are open to helping out here, but other clubs I don’t see how they can fund a defibrillator without help.
“A lot of these people are running these clubs for the love of it and it is for the community.
“These places are better for us than all being in the pub, so they do need support.”
The defibrillator is already fitted and ready to use at Team Shoe-Box, which as well as being home to a stable of professional boxers, also runs other boxing and fitness classes for people of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities.