Buxted football club determined to turn ‘negative into positive’ after defibrillator vandalised

A football club is determined to spread awareness of the life-saving importance of defibrillators after their device was damaged by vandals.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 12:32 pm
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 12:42 pm
The team at Buxted Football Club

Two people caused damaged to a defibrillator at Buxted Football Club near Uckfield in the early hours of Sunday morning – read more here.

Police confirmed a 17-year-old boy had been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and remains in custody for questioning.

The incident has received national attention, coming as it did just hours after the same equipment was used to save Danish footballer Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch mid-game.

The defibrillator was removed and damaged

Doctors said he suffered a cardiac arrest and by Sunday was reported to be stable and awake in hospital.

CCTV footage shared by the football club on social media has been viewed more than 30,000 times.

Mick Gosden, a volunteer at the club, said they had been inundated with messages from the community and media requests.

“It’s gone absolutely nuts,” he said.

The weekend had started in high spirits for the club, which held an end of season celebration on Saturday after winning the league, making them the Mid Sussex League Division One Champions.

Mick said: “It was brilliant, a fantastic day. Everyone was outside, it was lovely.”

However when he returned to help clear up in the morning, he was met with the damage to the defibrillator.

In a post on Facebook, he described the act as ‘sick, pointless and completely reckless’.

The defibrillator had been in place at the club for five years, and thankfully it had never been used, he said.

“It definitely isn’t just for the football club,” he added.

“We are a public recreation ground, we get used by lots of dog walkers, children. This is for the public.”

He is now hoping the incident will help raise awareness of just how important defibrillators are.

“We want to turn this negative into a positive,” he said.

“We want to get the message out to the community to say listen, these things are here.

“They will save your parents, they will save your siblings.

“There are going to be occasions where someone in your family will have a cardiac arrest.”

Mick, who is a first aid instructor himself, said every minute that passes when someone went into cardiac arrest was so important.

What happened to Eriksen proved just how vital they were, he said.

“If you get your first shock within seven minutes, 40 per cent of people will arrive at hospital with a heart rhythm,” he said.

“In a rural community where the ambulance service are absolutely stretched and working in hubs, you’ve got to have these sorts of things.

“The public needs to understand and respect what they are for.”

The club has already received around 12 offers of replacement defibrillators so far, he said.

One resident even rang to offer a monetary donation, telling them a defibrillator had saved her life just a week earlier.

“As a club we must have had hundreds of people contacting us with messages, wanting to help us,” Mick said.

“It kind of shows the best in people after you get something like this.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “Police are investigating a report of a defibrillator being damaged and stolen by two suspects at Buxted Football Club in Uckfield.

“The incident is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Sunday morning (13 June).

“A 17-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and remains in custody for questioning.

“Anyone with information that may assist with enquiries is urged to report online or call 101, quoting 551 of 13/06.”