Stolen defibrillator replaced by Becky’s Beat charity

Clonmel Celtic players and officials who were delighted to receive a replacement defibrillator. Included are David Grabowska, Alanna Power, John Power, Jacinta Mullins and Tony Acheson.
A defibrillator stolen from a Clonmel soccer club has been replaced by a charity that was established by a couple in memory of their late daughter.

A defibrillator stolen from a Clonmel soccer club has been replaced by a charity that was established by a couple in memory of their late daughter.

Vincent and Bridget Ann Whelan from Crehana, Carrick-on-Suir came to the rescue of Clonmel Celtic when they read a story in The Nationalist about the theft of the defibrillator from their clubhouse last August.

The money needed to replace the piece of lifesaving equipment - between €1,500 and €2,000 - was funded by Becky’s Beat, a charity set up in 2011 to create awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in school-aged children and adolescents, and to highlight the need for defibrillators.

It is dedicated to the memory of Vincent and Bridget Ann’s daughter Becky, who was just 7 when she died suddenly on a school trip over three years ago. She had been with her classmates from Crehana school on the trip to Waterford when she passed away taking part in the final activity of the day on June 2 2010.

“It was a very tough time for us, it still is”, says Bridget Ann Whelan. “The teachers and Special Needs Assistants were fantastic, they did what they could to save Becky”.

Becky had three previous collapses when she was rushed to hospital, each time recovering fully within a number of hours. She underwent tests for possible epilepsy but these came back clear.

Six months after her death it was discovered through genetic testing that Becky had Long QT Syndrome - an electrical defect of her heart. This had never shown up on her ECGs.

“Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) can happen at any age. It can happen to people whether they are involved in competitive sport or not; to fit or overweight people alike and to the young, the middle-aged and the old”, says Bridget Ann.

Since its establishment two years ago Becky’s Beat has helped 31 clubs and organisations in Counties Tipperary, Waterford, Cork, Kilkenny, Kildare, Offaly, Wicklow and Westmeath secure defibrillators. A Facebook page has also been set up and the www.beckysbeat.ie website has had over 31,000 hits.

“That level of interest hopefully shows that the message is getting through about the need for defibrillators”, says Bridget Ann, who works at the Tipperary Education and Training Board (formerly the VEC) at the former army barracks in Clonmel.

“Schools and sporting clubs have got together, raised some funding and we’ve helped them provide community defibrillators. Almost €2,500 was raised thanks to the generosity of all who took part in and supported the Mothel Honda 50 Run in Co. Waterford in July and this funding replaced Clonmel Celtic’s defibrillator”.

Meanwhile John Power, Clonmel Celtic’s PRO stated “we’re delighted that the stolen defibrillator has been very kindly replaced by the Whelans and their charity Becky’s Beat. We are very grateful for this generous donation”.