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Published: July 19, 2016

Story and Photographs by Andrew P.M. Wright                                                                                         Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer

A new 24-hour public access defibrillator – aimed at saving lives in the event of heart attacks – has been unveiled on Swanage station, thanks to the determined efforts of a dedicated community partnership.

The Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership was formed by a group of townspeople who wanted to see the devices, which use electric shocks to re-start the heart, installed around the seaside town.

An unveiling ceremony for the wall-mounted defibrillator, in its distinctive bright green cabinet, took place on the taxi office side of the late 1930s station building with Swanage estate agent and Partnership supporter David Corben cutting a ribbon to officially unveil the new equipment.

David and his brother John sponsored the machine, and its cabinet, in memory of their father, the late Eddie Corben, who was a dedicated fund raiser and member of the community in Swanage for many years.

Also involved in defibrillator awareness, education and training work, the Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership is composed of representatives of Dorset Police, the Coastguard, the National Health Service and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (R.N.L.I.).

The Partnership's life-saving work has been endorsed by Swanage Hospital, the town's health centre and the Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.

Swanage Railway General Manager Matt Green said: "The Swanage Railway is delighted to support this important life-saving initiative. Our trains carry more than 210,000 passengers a year and this new equipment will help to save lives in the event of heart attacks.

"How someone who suffers a heart attack is treated during the first few minutes of a collapse – before ambulance paramedics arrive – can make all the difference between life and death.

"I appreciate the importance of a defibrillator because a friend of mine suffered a major heart attack in a car park and, luckily, there happened to be a paramedic nearby who had a defibrillator in his vehicle and that equipment undoubtedly saved the man's life," explained Mr Green.

Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership member Ian Brown said: "I would like to thank everyone who has helped purchase and install this defibrillator at Swanage station – as well as five others around the town – because the equipment will help save lives in the event of a heart attack.

"We're appealing for more donations so we can install defibrillators at the Royal British Legion Club in the High Street, at the town's hospital and at Herston on the outskirts of Swanage.

"As a result of the Partnership's work, several Purbeck parish councils have expressed interest in purchasing defibrillators with our help – as have organisations, clubs and businesses in Swanage," added Mr Brown, station officer with the Swanage Coastguard who lost a valued colleague to a heart attack after the man collapsed some ten years ago.

So far, the Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership has raised more than £15,000 and purchased five defibrillators and their cabinets.

The new equipment has also been installed at the Swanage School, the Swanage coastguard station, the sea rowing club next to the town's Victorian pier and the seafront tourist information centre on Shore Road.

Thanks to the support of the British Heart Foundation and Dorset Police, a defibrillator has been installed outside the neighbourhood policing team office at Swanage Town Hall in the High Street.

Donations can be left at Corben's estate agents at 41 Station Road, Swanage.

Swanage Railway train times – and special event details – are available online at www.swanagerailway.co.uk or by telephone on 01929 425800.