Meet the lifesavers celebrating 20 years of looking after Hayling Island's community

LIFESAVERS looking after the close-knit community of Hayling Island are celebrating two decades since the group began.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 12:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 2:24 pm
Hayling Island community responders are celebrating 20 years since the group began, pictured at Age Concern Hayling Island. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Hayling Island Community Responders launched at the end of last millennium, as the team was formed by eight volunteers from the island to reduce wait times and relieve pressure on the ambulance service.

As ambulances are not based on the island, it can take a long time for paramedics to reach people in an emergency, so the community responders often make the difference between life and death.

Beginning as a walking group on Hayling, they soon started using cars because of the weight of the kit and distances they needed to travel quickly in emergencies.

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Retired nurse Rosy Raines was one of the original members, and still volunteers now. She said: ‘It’s nice being involved in the community.’

Co-ordinator Phil Pritchard, who has been a community responder volunteer for more than six years, said everyone has different reasons for taking part.

He added: ‘I wanted to give back, the island has a unique community spirit, that’s what drew me in.’

Sara Hill joined after seeing a man in Mill Rythe Holiday Village have a heart attack and be saved.

She said: ‘I’d seen the responders come in, I thought never again am I going to be able to stand there and do nothing.

‘I like helping people and why wouldn’t you want to save someone’s life?’

An average of 1,200 calls a year are answered by the Hayling Island Community Responders dispatched by South Central Ambulance Service, with the equivalent of one call per person on the island since the group formed.

The hard-working volunteers rely on the generosity of island residents donating to the cause in order to fund their car, petrol and kit, as well as the defibrillators they have installed around the island, as they receive no other funding.

Rosy said: ‘We’re very lucky the residents of Hayling are very generous, without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.’

Fundraising goes on all year-round, with three quizzes recently run by magician Sean Boon to boost their funds.