Heroic Whithorn family have saved three lives!

A remarkable Whithorn family have been hailed as lifesavers having successfully intervened on three occasions when someone’s heart had stopped.

By John A. MacInnes
Monday, 28th June 2021, 11:42 am
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 12:07 pm
Mel Sharp visiting Jan Lowther in hospital after saving her life
Mel Sharp visiting Jan Lowther in hospital after saving her life

Scottish charity Lucky2bhere has over 130 defibrillators in rural locations and conducts CPR training in schools and communities across the region, training every school pupil from P6 to give them the confidence and skills to save a life.

For 18 years, Mel Sharp and Stuart Fairclough have run Burrowhead Holiday Village. Back in October 2016 Stuart and son Steven intervened to try and save the life of a worker on the site.

Steven was only 15 and took on the CPR while his dad ran to get a signal to call 999. Tragically and despite their quick thinking and great CPR skills nothing could be done for him though the incident spurred Mel on to fundraise for a defibrillator and training for the holiday village.

In August 2017 a defibrillator and emergency life support training was provided by Lucky2BHere. It was only weeks later in October 2017 that Mel found herself using that same device to save the life of Stuart’s mum.

Jan Lowther was only in her early 60s and had no idea that a serious situation was building up in her body which would lead to her heart stopping. Quick thinking Mel started CPR within minutes of Jan’s collapse outside the bar and after just one shock from the defibrillator Jan’s heart restarted.

Jan said: “If it hadn’t been for trained people doing the CPR and using the defib, well I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. Now and again it hits you and you think how lucky you are to be here.”

Mel is passionate about the work that Lucky2BHere does to put defibrillators in communities and to teach communities life saving skills.

She herself was brought up knowing CPR as her mum Catherine Sharp is a first aid trainer, assessor and lifeguard. Mel remembers sitting in on mum’s classes from the age of six and even then realising how important it was.

Steven’s skills were called on again in September 2019 when he was alerted to the scene of another cardiac arrest in nearby Newton Stuart.

He came to the aid of a local GP desperately trying to save the life of a young man lying on the street, and his skills and confidence in using the equipment saw the young man live and recover.

Catherine’s many years of practice and experience were called upon to save the life of a competitor who went into cardiac arrest during the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere.

She remarkably performed CPR on a moving boat while it rushed the young man to shore, and thanks to her quick action, the young man has lived to tell the tale.

Mel and her family urge every adult to work with Lucky2BHere to get more defibrillators out in remote communities and get everyone trained.

As Mel says: “CPR can keep someone’s heart beating and give them a chance but it is the defibrillator that will bring them back, defibrillators are so important.”

Lucky2BHere founder Ross Cowie, himself a cardiac arrest survivor says: “Mel and her incredible family of lifesavers are leading the way for us all. Let’s get defibrillators and lifesavers into every community and make Scotland the safest place to live!”

As the caravans, chalets and tents at Burrowhead fill up with residents and visitors Mel is hoping for an uneventful season although she still uses every opportunity to remind guests of the importance of CPR and where to find the defib.

She said: “Everyone should know what to do cause you never know when it will be needed to save a life. If it ever happened to me, I’d hope someone would know what to do.”

To find out more about getting a defibrillator and training email [email protected]