A MEMORIAL fund has been launched to buy defibrillators for one of the Durham Dales in memory of a father who died suddenly of a heart attack.

David Nelson, a builder and father of two from Hill End, Frosterley, in Weardale, died in January this year.

When he was taken ill no ambulances were stationed locally and it took a crew 40 minutes to get to his home from Teesside.

It is now hoped the first defibrillator will be sited at Hill End.

His family said the aim of the new equipment is to fill the gap between an emergency taking place and help arriving at the scene.

Mr Nelson’s daughter, Gillian Hutchinson said: “We really want to raise enough to get defibrillators for people here because we feel that living in Weardale there is just no safety net.

“Unfortunately an ambulance didn’t get here in time for Dad, if it did it may have given him more of a chance. We hope that we can make a difference having defibrillators nearby for people in the future.”

The defibrillators will be accessible to the public and hooked up to the emergency services. Access is gained by calling 999 and getting a code as an ambulance is despatched.

Basic training in the use of these machines is being offered in local village halls and other venues.

Fundraising has already started, and Mr Nelson’s family and friends say they have been overwhelmed by the offers of help and support.

Mrs Hutchinson said: “Without holding any events we have already banked £1,400 from community donations.”

Events include a sponsored zip wire from the Baltic on Newcastle Quayside, on Sunday, September 20 and on Saturday, September 12, Mr Nelson’s grandchildren will take part in the mini Great North Run, the day before Mrs Hutchinson, undertakes her 12th Great North Run.

A tombola stall will be on Wolsingham Show Field on the first weekend in September, and donations of prizes are welcome.

The Frosterley Inn is also hosting a nine-mile walk to Wolsingham Elephant Trees on Saturday, May 9.

Details of a table top sale and a celebration of 100 years of Frosterley Angling Group, of which Mr Nelson was a member, will be released soon.

For details of the training, call Judith Reed on 01388 529227, and for more information on the fund or to offer sponsorship or help, contact Mrs Hutchinson on 07779 050321.