A CAMPAIGN to put life-saving defibrillators in every Basildon school in memory of a schoolgirl has raised enough money to buy the first machines.
Two defibrillators were handed over to Woodlands School, in Takeley End, Basildon, on Friday by the Eastgate Centre.
The school and shopping centre teamed up in November to raise £60,000 to buy 51 machines in memory of Leonie Nice, 12.
The Woodlands schoolgirl died in PE class from an undetected heart problem.
While a defibrillator would not have saved her, it is hoped having the machines in every Basildon school will mean they are on hand if they are needed.
Jayne Dear, deputy headteacher, said the next defibrillator would go to Lee Chapel Primary School within the coming weeks and the school had so far raised around £2,000.
She said: “Woodlands School is acutely aware that having such equipment and training here is essential for our 1,500 or so pupils and our 200 plus staff.
“We are all behind this project which will inspire confidence that, in the unlikely event of a cardiac arrest at the school, there are defibrillators and trained operators available to help save lives.
“We started fundraising with carol singing last year and that alone raised £800.
“People have been incredibly generous.”
In honour of the first defibrillators being handed over on February 14, the scheme has been called the Basildon Valentine Project.
Eastgate has been training teachers and senior pupils at the school how to use the defibrillators.
Centre manager Ian Clark said: “Eastgate has been supporting the placement of defibrillators in Basildon town square for some years as part of our community programme.
“The Basildon Valentine Project will now also get our total commitment going forward.
“We are delighted to have become a partner of Woodlands, which is bang on our doorstep, to address a genuine need, and we jointly aim to allocate as many defibrillators as possible to Basildon schools within the shortest possible time.”