A LIFESAVING campaign to install defibrillators across Aireborough and Wharfedale has been honoured with national awards.

The Global CPAD (Community Public Access Defibrillators) Campaign has proved hugely successful since its launch six years ago. In that time it has provided 137 devices and saved six lives.

Now the scheme's founder Brian Firth has been presented with the Special Recognition Award at the UK Heart Safe ceremony in Manchester.

And the Lifesaver of the Year award has gone to two men who stepped in to save a Horsforth man, using one of the devices provided through the project.

Mr Firth, 72, from Guiseley, originally launched his campaign to raise £1,600 for a public access defibrillator outside the town's Morrisons store after the death of a customer in the car park.

The appeal prompted a huge response, making it possible to provide more and more lifesaving equipment. While the majority have been installed in the Aireborough-Wharfedale area, the scheme now stretches around Yorkshire and Northumberland, Wales, Lancashire, and Scotland.

Mr Firth said the project had been so successful that it had also inspired the launch of other defibrillator campaigns.

People whose lives have been saved by the campaign include Otley and Yeadon councillor Ryk Downes who himself went on to raise funds for another three CPADs.

A further three defibrillators were provided thanks to the efforts of Yeadon woman Helen Pickford who raised the funds in memory of her husband Mark, who died of a heart attack at the age of 48.

Within weeks one of these was used by passers-by to save the life of Trevor Hopton who collapsed in Yeadon in January this year.

Army captain Andrew Plant, 37, from Yeadon, and intensive care doctor James Beck received their Lifesaver of the Year Award for rushing to Mr Hopton's aid.

Captain Plant said: "It is an honour to receive recognition for what happened, but it is important to remember that I was there by chance. There are people all over the country who have chosen, through their professions, to make it their personal responsibility to help those in dire need. Every single one of them deserve recognition for the amazing work they do every day."

Dr James Beck said he was over the moon at winning the award and pleased to see Mr Hopton recovering so well.

Mr Hopton, 64, from Horsforth, who has himself gone on to raise funds for two defibrillators was at the ceremony to see the awards presented.

His brush with death happened when he collapsed and went into sudden cardiac attest on January 19, within yards of the recently-installed equipment opposite the Woolpack Pub in Yeadon. He had to be shocked three times before his heart began beating again.

Speaking several weeks after the incident he said: "All the hospital medical team say that time is critical in that situation, had it not been for some very kind people and the community defibrillator near by I would not be here today sharing this with you and my family."

After the ceremony he said he felt "blessed" that everything came together for him on that day - with bystanders, including a doctor, prepared to go to his assistance and a defibrillator within ten metres of the incident. He also thanked Mr Firth for launching the campaign that led to his life being saved.

Mr Firth stressed: "This is the reality of the campaign, although it is nice to win awards, actually saving lives is the ultimate reward."

He added: "I am proud to have received the award and appreciate my efforts being recognised, but I would like to stress that the success of the campaign is largely due to the efforts of people like Peter Jackson who formed the successful Otley Defibrillators as a satellite of my campaign."

He thanked all the people, groups and businesses that have funded defibrillators and replacement parts over the years.

Mr Firth has formed a team of volunteer 'guardians' who help with the monthly checks on the defibrillators and he is currently looking for guardians for Skipton.

The UK Heart Safe Awards recognise outstanding individuals and organisations who have become life savers or created heart safe environments for their workplaces and communities.