Ballymena: Shop owner who almost died from Sudden Death Syndrome donates life-saving portable defibrillator to town centre
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Sinead Connolly, who owns Dunclug Spar in Ballymena, unexpectedly took ill in the town centre in October 2020. She collapsed with Sudden Death Syndrome, a diagnosis that can often come all-too-late for those who are not near a defibrillator when their heart stops with no warning.
Thanks to the paramedics who arrived on the scene with a portable defibrillator, Sinead’s heart was able to be shocked twice, saving her life.
During her long road to recovery, Sinead reflected on her experience and was inspired to install an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at her family’s shop, Connolly’s Spar & Off Sales, in case anyone else found themselves in the same terrifying situation.
It brings to four the number of defibs in the town which are maintained by Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) - the other three are at the Front Page, Wallace’s, and Cameron’s.
There are a further 15 defibs in the town, which is thought to be among the most in any town in Northern Ireland.
Sinead's fundraising efforts included a 12-hour ‘spinathon’ by family and friends, where they raised over £7.5k, which was five times what they needed to buy one unit, so they ended up purchasing a total of five to be stationed around the town.
Sinead said: “We were overwhelmed with support from both the Ballymena BID and indeed the local community, and we are so delighted to see this defibrillator installed right in the centre of the town, outside the old Bank of Ireland building beside the Harmony Hub, close to where my own incident happened two years ago.
"The others are located at; SureStart Playgroup, Healthy Kidz in Portadown, All-Saints Youth Club, Geraldine Donnelly School of Irish Dancing the fifth is installed outside our store and all are available to the community 24/7.
“Working to make this happen has changed my outlook on the terrible incident that almost cost me my life. I can walk past these now with both pride and optimism, knowing that should anyone else suffer the same problem, help is literally at hand."
Chair of Ballymena BID Stephen Reynolds said: “We are so very grateful to Sinead and her fundraising team for thinking of others during a personal crisis.
“Sinead and her husband our much-valued members of our local business community, and we are very grateful for this generous contribution."
He added: “Ballymena BID is committed to raising awareness of where all the defibs are located and to maintaining their up-keep, so they will be ready and close at hand should they be needed in an emergency.
"We have also committed to annual training for any staff member in the town who wishes to be trained in the use of this fantastic equipment.”
If you want to know where your closest defibrillator is located and if it is emergency ready, visit www.defibfinder.uk for a national map of all registered defibs.