The WPH Charitable Trust has given Coventry Cathedral a total £4,200 for the purchase of two lifesaving defibrillators, as well as a batch of First Aid units, three wheelchairs and a tri-wheel evacuation chair to help people up and down the stairs in case of an emergency.

The defibrillators are being used in addition to the current device which had been purchased by the Freeman’s Guild following the death of one of their members from a heart attack during a concert at the Cathedral.

WPH’s donation follows an incident in which a second man – Frank Betteridge of Nuneaton - almost died in the Cathedral last year but was saved with the help of the older device.

The Dean of Coventry, the Very Reverend John Witcombe, noted that with a growing number of visitors – the Cathedral ruins attract more than 300,000 people each year – there was a need to have a more concentrated coverage of the area.

One of the new devices will be for use inside the Cathedral, which has a capacity of 2000 people seated, while the other will be used within the vicinity of the ruins, which can hold an audience of 1600 standing.

The older device is at hand in the lower floor of the Cathedral.

Frank Betteridge, said: "I’d not really had any history of heart problems and the incident came without warning. I can’t really remember much about it but I do know I wouldn’t be here today if there hadn’t been a defibrillator on site."

Coventry Cathedral Chaplain Rosemary McKeown was at hand with Richard Hills, a GP as well as Vergers Dan Anderson, Michelle Dickinson, George Haynes, Dan Vickerstaff and Chrissie Langley, all of whom helped keep Mr Betteridge alive until the defibrillator arrived.

Rosemary said: "We’d just arrived for the Advent service and I heard a horrific noise – like a gurgling sound – before Frank fell forward. As a nurse I knew exactly what it was. I thumped his chest and we managed to get him into the recovery position. When the vergers arrived I could not feel a pulse in Frank’s neck. We did chest compressions until the defibrillator arrived but there is no doubt he would not be here today had it not been nearby."

The Very Rev Witcombe issued a personal thank you to the WPH Charitable Trust.

He said: "Fortunately we were able to save Mr Betteridge’s life.

"I am hoping that we never have to use these new life saving devices, but it is a great comfort to know that all our thousands of visitors have access to the latest version of this amazing equipment. Having defibrillators available in more public spaces in Coventry must be a good thing."

WPH Charitable Trust provides funding for individuals, groups and organisations which work to prevent, relieve and cure sickness in Coventry and Warwickshire. The Trust provides grants for medical research, buildings, equipment and other forms of medical care for residents of the region. All applications are made via the Trust’s website, and are assessed on a quarterly basis.

For further details log on to

Alternatively, applications can be sent by post to: Secretary to the WPH Charitable Trust, c/o Blythe Liggins, Edmund House, Rugby Road, Leamington Spa, CV32 6EL.

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