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Salmon farmer and footballers club together to make the Bignold safer

Scottish Sea Farms and three Kirkwall football clubs have come together to install a defibrillator at The Bignold, which is used as a sporting ground and as the home of the County Show. From the left: Joseph Coyle, Kirkwall Wanderers FC; Gary Flett, Orkney Agricultural Society; DJ Moffat, Kirkwall Thorfinn FC; Connan Rendall, Kirkwall Rovers FC, and Kirsty Brown, Scottish Sea Farms, outside Bignold Park clubhouse.

Three Kirkwall football clubs have secured funding for a potentially life-saving defibrillator at the Bignold.

Kirkwall Wanderers, Rovers and Thorfinn, approached local salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms for help in buying a defibrillator for Bignold Park, which is not only used for matches and for training, but also for the annual agricultural show and by members of the public.

Defibrillators give a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest but, according to the British Heart Foundation, a device needs to be found and deployed as quickly as possible.

The nearest defibrillator to Bignold Park is currently located at Kirkwall Grammar School (KGS) sports centre, which is more than 500 metres away and therefore deemed unviable by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Kirkwall Wanderers coach Joseph Coyle said representatives from all three teams calculated that even if a fit player dashed to KGS to grab the device it would still take around ten minutes, potentially longer than it would take for an ambulance to arrive.

“Hopefully, we will never have to use the defibrillator, but it will give the three home clubs and away clubs peace of mind knowing that if something were to happen, then we have this to hand.

“We will also be encouraging all three senior clubs to make sure they have people who are trained in first aid and know how to use the device once it is installed.

“We started discussing this after the Euro 2020 game, when Danish footballer Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch.

“And we have seen during Premier League matches how often play is stopped because a spectator needs medical support.’

Coyle made contact with Scottish Sea Farms environmental scientist Kirsty Brown, who he knew through their combined efforts to set up girls-only football training and teams.

“Scottish Sea Farms has already installed defibrillators at farms and facilities across its estate, installing them outdoors wherever we can so that the local community can access them too — these are then listed on the company website,” said Ms Brown.

“Making this new device available to everyone who uses Bignold Park, be they player, coach or supporter, builds on this effort to benefit as many people as we possibly can.”

The defibrillator, acquired with a £3,000 grant from Scottish Sea Farms’ Heart of the Community Fund, will be attached to either the Bignold Park clubhouse or to the toilet block, which are both centrally located and easily visible, said Coyle.

“Thanks to Scottish Sea Farms and the initiative of the three clubs involved, we hope to make the ground safer for this generation of players and spectators, and for the generations to come,” he added.