Gemma Wells, who started Gemma’s Hearts to fundraise and provide lifesaving defibrillators in public places across Peterborough, has expressed her heartbreak as two have been taken out of the system by vandals.
On Saturday (April 9), the charity was alerted to the fact that the defibrillator at The Chestnuts Community Centre on Norman Road has been vandalised.
It was reported that around 15 youths were seen trying to kick it off the wall at around 6:30pm.
The defibrillator was only installed four weeks ago and has been used six times since then. It has been deployed on two separate emergencies last week.
The second, at the Family Voice Community Centre in Paynels, Orton Goldhay, was targeted on Sunday (April 10). The lighting and fittings were completely ripped out of the unit, the mechanism and the keypad were damaged and the defibrillator was left open, wasting the battery.
The community centre’s front door bell, which helps disabled and deaf children, was also vandalised beyond repair and internal light was completely ripped off the wall.
The charity has been inundated with support since announcing the news of the vandalism. Both cabinets will need replacing but it could cost up to £2000 if the defibrillators themselves need replacing.
The cost for the works on at the Chestnuts centre have been covered now but the unit will still be out of action for between two and three weeks.
Gemma said: “I am absolutely heart broken and disgusted someone can do this to live saving equipment.
“A very big thank you though, we are very overwhelmed by your support regarding the vandalism of the defibrillator unit at The Chestnut Community Centre. What a fantastic community we have.
“Thank you so much to everyone that has made the very kind gestures to ensure the costs of the damage is paid, we now have a plan in action.
“The defibrillator will be out of action roughly 2-3 weeks, but we aim to get it back up and running asap. For now, it has been removed from the system.
Ward councillors Shabina Qayyum and Samantha Hemjaj visited the site on Sunday to offer their support and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow has also issued an appeal for anyone who may have information about the vandalism to come forward.
Anyone who saw the incident can contact Cambridgeshire Police in 101, incident number 35/24680/22.