THE PEOPLE of Otley have been thanked for their ‘instant and huge’ response to an appeal to support the town’s defibrillators.

Otley now has 19 potentially life-saving Community Public Access Defibrillators (CPADs) positioned everywhere from the town centre to the slopes of the Chevin.

The devices, used to restart a heart, have been bought through the efforts of the Otley Defibrillators campaign - with the backing of the Global CPAD Campaign - and a number of independent groups and individuals.

A recent audit of the equipment, however, found that many of the defibrillators had chest pads which had recently gone out of date - leaving them in danger of becoming unusable. Others had batteries in need of replacement while one device was discovered to be faulty: so an urgent appeal for money to pay for the maintenance work was launched during the Christmas holidays.

Local Community First Responder co-ordinator Ken Creek, who carried out the audit, said: “As there were no funds available for the ongoing costs through the Global CPAD Campaign, which manages the machines, I put a plea for funding out through the Otley – Our Town Facebook page. The response was instant and huge.

“Within hours enough money had been pledged to replace the pads and through the web based GoFundMe account, set up by Tom Featherstone, money has been raised to fully fund one replacement battery and almost fund another. And the money is still rolling in.”

Nine machines - including those at Otley Fire Station, Otley Core, and Wharfemeadows Park cafe - were at risk of of becoming decommissioned. Now, thanks to the funding success, all of the replacement pads (which Mr Creek secured at a discounted rate) have been installed.

Otley Town Councillor Peter Jackson, who co-ordinated the fundraising drive to purchase many of the defibrillators, said: “I applaud and thank Tom Featherstone and Ken Creek for all their efforts.”

Mr Creek added: “The momentum has inspired more volunteers to help raise funds for CPADs and their maintenance, and it is hoped a working group can take over the responsibility of checking the serviceability of the equipment.”