Heidi Anderson’s beloved 10-year-old daughter collapsed suddenly in the playground of Dromore Central Primary School on September 20.
Despite the efforts of school staff and paramedics to resuscitate her she sadly passed away a few hours later at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Her devastated family still don’t know what caused her heart to stop so suddenly, with the post-mortem examination proving inconclusive. And they’ve been told that it could be months before they get the results of specialist tests being carried out in London.
In the days after Isobel’s tragic death, a group of Dromore residents set up a fundraising campaign with the aim of purchasing life-saving defibrillators for local schools.
Their efforts have seen the amazing total of £6,450 raised in just a month - enough to provide defibrillators, associated equipment and training for several local nursery, primary and post-primary schools. (Read related story - ‘People have been amazingly generous’)
Speaking on behalf of herself, husband Tom and daughters Mary, Tess and Kate, Heidi thanked those who set up the fundraiser - Gary Barlow, Karen Long and Seamus Greene - and all those who supported it so generously. She also expressed her gratitude to Gary’s wife Elaine for her role in the campaign.
“As a family plunged into the deepest depths of grief the efforts of the people of Dromore in the fundraising they have done since Isobel’s death has given us a much needed source of comfort,” she told the Leader.
“From what started out as a group of neighbours (Gary, Elaine, Karen and Seamus) discussing the idea of trying to get defibrillators put into the two local primary schools, the momentum built at such a rate to the point where we are now able to provide defibrillators, Pedi Packs, storage cabinets and training to both the primary schools in the town. Defibrillators will also be placed in Dromore Nursery School, Rainbows Pre-school and Dromore High School.
“We also want to say a particular thank you to all the staff in our local SuperValu for displaying collection boxes for donations and to all the staff who took part in the in-store static cycle on bikes provided by Jamie McCutcheon and Brian Jordan.”
Medical experts have told the Andersons that a defibrillator wouldn’t have saved Isobel due to the nature of her cardiac arrest, but the family believe it’s important that schools have access to such vital equipment, and the training that could save lives.
Describing the successful fundraising campaign as “community spirit in Dromore working at its best”, Heidi said she hopes the provision of the defibrillators will prevent others from having to go through the pain and grief she and her family have experienced.
“We want to extend a very special thank you to the members of the public who gave so generously to the appeal, especially at this time of year with Christmas just around the corner,” she continued.
“Tom, myself and Isobel’s little sisters Mary, Tess and Kate cannot thank all involved enough. We view this as an outstanding tribute to our beautiful daughter Isobel, of whom we are immensely proud.
“This is a tragedy that no parent should have to go through - a tragedy that you think happens to ‘other people’.
“Since Isobel’s death we have seen and felt the love and community spirit working at its best in Dromore. We really do live in a warm and supportive community.”