From a tragedy which tore apart a love of 25 years, Monifieth’s first public access defibrillators have been installed in a lifesaving legacy for the town.
Three machines have been funded with money raised following the sudden death earlier this year of popular local man Neil Prenderleith.
And they are part of a programme which has seen the community go from having no public access defibs to now harbouring ambitions of leading the way in Angus by installing them in residential areas.
A defibrillator drive by Monifieth Medical Centre patient advisory group and local man Daryl Barr was getting underway when fate dealt the cruellest of blows to local 51-year-old Neil Fairweather and his husband of less than a year.
Many knew the popular couple as ‘the Neils’ or ‘F & P’ due to them sharing the same first name.
In the devastating March incident, Neil found his partner lying on the floor of their Malcolm Crescent home after returning from a Sunday morning trip to the local shop.
Neil was also 51 at the time – and just four days away from surgery for an irregular heart rate having undergone two previous procedures for the condition.
His husband said the tragedy drove home the absence of public defibs in Monifieth and following the death he vowed to remedy the situation and provide a potential lifeline for others.
Neil said: “We had been partners for 25 years and only got married on July 10 2020.”
“Neil was born in Inverness and grew up in Helensburgh and Dunfermline as his dad moved with work.
“Eventually the family settled in Broughty Ferry, where Neil decided to put down his roots.
“We both worked together for the Royal Bank of Scotland where we met and then Neil followed me to work for Dundee City Council.
Neil added: “He loved cooking, wine and socialising and we travelled to many places and made many good friends both here at home and overseas.
“However, he had a passion for Italian cuisine and Italy itself, spending his 50th birthday on Lake Como.
“He also had a great love and knowledge of cars and loved driving.
“We both agreed our best holidays were our road trips across Europe where we would set off without a definite plan and just see where we ended up – such adventures.”
Neil, 51, spoke of the moment of tragedy which turned his life upside down in the most heart-wrenching of circumstances.
“I returned from the shop to find him and despite CPR and paramedic intervention he was unable to be saved,” he said.
“It was that day I realised how badly served Monifieth was in regards to defibrillator provision – especially access to 24 hour public access defibrillators which can be easily picked up and put into use with a maximum 10 minutes.
“Speed is of the essence.”
Neil suffered from atrial fibrillation and was due to undergo surgery in Edinburgh that week.
“He had two previous procedures and we will never know if a third would have been successful or not,” said Neil.
“I decided it would be fitting to do something constructive after he passed away and set up a Justgiving page.
“It has been very tough, but it was something positive and kept me going at the time.
“Due to the generosity of our friends, family and colleagues we raised over £5,100 for the three defibrillators.”
He was delighted to support the campaign being led by the patient group and 30-year-old architectural technician Daryl Barr, whose family has more reason than most to appreciate the value of the kit.
Daryl said: “My father-in-law had a heart attack in February 2020 and luckily is still here thanks to a defibrillator being available.”
He funded the balance for the patient group’s first machine and a JustGiving page set up by him has now raised more than £1,200.
Darren continues to work towards more machines becoming available.
Where are the Monifieth public access defibrillators?
The defibs funded through Neil Fairweather’s donation are being installed at Monifieth library, Alan Masterton solicitors in Maule Street and the Milton Inn.
The others which have come from the patient group-led project are to be located at Milton Park Garage, Monifieth Medical Practice and Premier Retail in Mortimer Drive.
In addition, Ewart’s Butchers and McDonald’s at Ethiebeaton have installed them, and Taylor Wimpey plans to site one at its Victoria Grange development early in 2022.
Daryl added: “From none to having six outside and accessible to the public is great.
“But residential areas is now one of the things which we are looking at.
“There are questions around the power supply which is needed, but we are talking about that and hopefully can get it sorted out.
“Hopefully Monifieth can take the lead on that and be an example for other places.”
Patient group praise
Patient advisory group chairwoman Edith Christie said: “A list of the defibrillators in the town – as far as was known at that time – was published on Our Monifieth Facebook page and Neil Fairweather posted that he had £5,000 of crowdfunding money raised following the sad death of his partner and would like to arrange for defibrillators to be installed in his memory.
“He was put in contact with Lynn Lawrence at St John Scotland, Angus & Dundee to get these wishes progressed.
“The campaign has encouraged other businesses and clubs to consider their position in relation to the provision of PADs and it is understood that there will be another five located in the town in the near future.
“We will continue to fundraise and apply for financial assistance and it is hoped that there will be more installed in the outlying areas of the town in the future.”