In the heart of Wales

445. Anthony Hamilton-Shaw
444. Sherilyn Hamilton-Shaw

A Welsh couple founded Cariad, a charity which has led communities to install over 200 defibrillator across Wales.

Sherilyn and Anthony Hamilton-Shaw started Cariad as a campaign to raise awareness about how defibrillators can save lives, and have helped install defibrillators in schools, community spaces and sporting locations.

The couple initially began Cariad in 2012 as a campaign to raise awareness and fundraise for the cost of providing seven schools in Llanelli with life saving training and defibrillators. Cariad became an official charity in 2013 to carry on installing defibrillators across Wales.

Anthony and Sherilyn, along with 15 other volunteers, visit communities to speak about the importance of having defibrillators, and if there is enthusiasm for defibrillator, hold an event to raise money and provide training. Both the community and Cariad contribute to the cost of the equipment, giving the community ownership over the defibrillators.

In 2004, Anthony suffered a serious road traffic incident that ended his career as a police officer and Sherilyn gave up a singer career to care for him. Four years ago Sherilyn discovered that she had an Abnormal Right Ventricle, which is linked to ARVD. Her heart abnormality means she could suffer a severe cardiac at any moment.

After discovering that there is a lack of defibrillators in the majority of communities, Sherilyn and Anthony set out to ensure as many places as possible can provide access to the life-saving equipment.

Cariad works in partnership with the Mid and West Fire & Rescue Service and Welsh Ambulance Service. Together the organisations have set up the Public Access Defibrillators Scheme (PADS) to install defibrillators in open and accessible communal spaces. Cariad also works with Community First Responders, who attend to victims while ambulances are arriving, allowing the responders to use defibrillators as early as possible before paramedics arrive to take over.

At present 8000 people a year in Wales suffer cardiac arrest away from a hospital, and the survival rate is just 3%. Time is of the essence when dealing with cardiac arrests – every minute without a defibrillators reduces survival chances by 15%.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Sherilyn and Anthony have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of how defibrillators can help to save lives. By inspiring others to join the work of Cariad they have helped hundreds of communities to raise money and install their own defibrillator. I am delighted to recognise them as the UK’s 444th and 445th Points of Light.”

Sherilyn and Anthony said:

“We are truly honoured to be receiving this award, Cariad’s success is down to every individual who has supported our aims in communities and schools across Wales. We would like to express our sincere thanks to you all.”

Stephen Roberts, Regional First Responder Officer at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said:

“I have known Anthony and Sheri for a couple of years now, and their support of our Community First Responder teams has been invaluable.

“They work so hard to raise awareness about defibrillators, as well as inspire communities to raise funds for this life-saving piece of kit and train people on how to use it. I’m delighted that they have been recognised in this way; they are a true inspiration.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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