Millie’s Dream, a charity which was started by Sarah Roberts and her daughter Millie who suffers from a life-threatening heart condition celebrated the installation of their 100th defibrillator on Monday evening at Eye & Dunsden Village Hall with Patron, Dame Katherine Grainger cutting the ribbon with Millie.
The Henley charity installed their first defibrillator at Millie’s school, Rupert House in 2013 which was used to save José Goumal’s life in April 2019.
Dame Katherine Grainger said, “What an absolute joy to be here. When this all began I don’t think that anyone had the vision at where it would lead to. I can’t believe we’re installing the 100th. It’s such an incredible celebration of such a vision, that started a long time ago when Millie was six. It was an incredible vision of doing something that would basically help other people and save lives. I haven’t done all 100 but I’ve done some of the decade ones and I think we thought we were proud when we got to the 50th or 60th but we’re now here at the 100th. I think its a brilliant celebration of what one person with a vision can do but also what an amazing community can do for each other.”
Sarah Roberts said, “Thank you all the ‘Dreamers’ as I call you all that have supported us for the last 10 years. I’m so personally enormously grateful. Millie and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. As a result of the defibrillators that we have donated we are thrilled that five Daddies are going to see Christmas again this year. The maintenance now is the biggest issue as we have to replace batteries and pads every 2 years which cost around £300-400 per device. We have got to keep going as people have put so much effort in making sure we have those defibrillators there and we’ve got to keep them going. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to my amazing inspirational daughter, thank you.”
David Wright who had a cardiac arrest at Henley Leisure Centre whilst playing squash in October 2019 is now a volunteer with the charity. He commented, “The defib that was used on me was not a Millie’s Dream one but it did prompt me to help with maintaining some of the devices and co-ordinating other volunteers. Beforehand I wasn’t aware that I had a heart problem. I was a serious squash player, having played in the World and European Masters. It was remarkable that after falling over on the squash court in the middle of a game, the staff at the Leisure Centre used the defibrillator for 7 mins and the ambulance came within 15 mins and I was stented all within an hour of falling over at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. I was in hospital for four days afterwards. It was completely a fantastic performance. I have had a few more stints put in, I have 7 now. I no longer play squash but I still row in a single. I definitely wouldn’t be around with it. I’ve successfully used one at Centre Parcs a few years so this was my pay back.”
Mike Lee collapsed on Easter Saturday last year at Nettlebed Creamery. He explained, “I cycled there from Stoke Row and there was a lot of luck that I collapsed there. Fortunately there was a doctor there and a member of staff called the ambulance who told them to go and get the defibrillator from Nettlebed School next door. They told them to not to stop. They were complete novices and the first time it didn’t restart my heart. Luck would also have it that the air ambulance was at RAF Benson just 3 miles away and they got there really quickly. I was out for around 10-15 mins. The air ambulance took me to the John Radcliffe where I had stent put in. It wasn’t long before I was back on the bike; I think it was about 5 weeks.”
David who is a doctor added, “Your chances of surviving cardiac arrest out of hospital are extremely low, well under 10%. We have 3 survivors from cardiac arrests which is quite an elite group. Without the defibs there on the spot – that is the crucial bit. You only have minutes 3-7 minutes. The defibs have to be local, you can’t have people running half a mile to go and get one, hence why we have got a lot in Henley. We’ve got a team of volunteers who look after and maintain them and I’d like to thank them. The maintenance is not trivial in terms of cost, so there’s a lot still do. Sarah has led the way and I’d really like to thank her for doing this and Katherine for coming along on this expedition.”
Bill Evans survived after a cardiac arrest whilst rowing in April 2019. Bill said, “When you survive a cardiac arrest in the middle of the Thames when you’re rowing I would think is a pretty minute chance. I was very lucky that all the ducks were in row. I don’t remember anything about it all or for a week afterwards. I was in the bow of an eight and I just went and it was difficult to get ashore. They started doing CPR in the boat and then they got me out. On that very day, a defibrillator there was a course on how to use the defibrillator at Upper Thames Club. The lady who was running the course used the defibrillator on me. I was then taken to hospital. The worst part for my wife Marion was when they told her I was going to be OK! The doctors said to her, ‘we’ve fixed his heart, however the blood had stopped running to his brain and we’ve put him into an induced coma but when he wakes up he might know you, he might not’. When I woke up my brain was OK but after about a week I forgot how to walk so I was in hospital for another six weeks with the physio team. I just remember thinking I’m still here.”
Marion, Bill’s wife added, “Without it we wouldn’t have had the result that we have had. It was the main thing really. The first difficulty was getting him out of the river. Luckily he was at the bow of the boat so collapsed on to the tail end of the boat and he had 7 strong men to lift him out. We were so lucky to have a professional, ex paramedic doing the course that day. We’ve since met her and she said, I actually did a practical before the theory.”
Jemma Phillimore from the Phillimore Foundation said, “The Phillimore family have supported the village hall for a long time and continues to do so. The Trustees of the village hall identified that this would be a really good way of using the donation because there isn’t a near defibrillator in the vicinity. There is not one Dunsden Green. We were aware of Millie’s Dream and we just decided that it would be a really good addition to the village hall that gets used for weddings, parties and children’s events but also cyclists and walkers. We’re in a really beautiful spot here. When we approached Millie’s Dream they agreed it would be a brilliant location. Hopefully it will be put to its use if it needs to be and will save a life.” Diane Honey, Treasurer of Eye & Dunsden Village Hall added, “The nearest one I know is in Emmer Green which is too far. Quite often cycle groups will hire the hall car park for a stop point, use the facilities and have refreshments here. We are very integrated with the cycling groups because of our location. We have a very long hill coming up from the Henley Road which could very easily cause an incident.”