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Cotswold Mātāhae School

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August 2023

Cotswold Mātāhae School Coin Trail Article
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Wakefield School

Lifesaving device at school adds reassurance for parents

Laurel Ketel

14 July 2022



When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every second is crucial, says Tania Parr.

As a nurse and a mum to an eight-year-old with a congenital heart defect, Parr knows all too well how important it is to have defibrillators on hand.

So when she heard that Embracing Hearts, a charity that donates automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to schools, and Heart Kids NZ, who support families impacted by childhood heart conditions wanted to donate a device to a Nelson-Tasman school, Parr immediately put Wakefield School forward.

For Parr and other families affected by heart conditions, the thought that their children could go into heart failure while playing or exerting themselves was a constant concern.

“To know that my heart child and other children with heart and health conditions have this life-saving device on hand is so reassuring,” she said.

“When it comes to cardiac arrest, every second counts in terms of patient outcomes.”

Located near the school and community pool, Wakefield School principal Peter Verstappen said the AED will provide an extra level of support and reassurance for staff, students, visitors and the community.

“We’re grateful to receive this generous and unexpected gift and we’re pleased to have it,” he said.

According to Heart Kids NZ, 12 Kiwi children are diagnosed with a heart condition each week.

Embracing Hearts trustee Emma Lawler said the charity aimed to get an AED into every school with a heart kid.

“We have donated 38 AEDs so far, with 18 more to be installed when they arrive in the country.”

Lawler said the funds for the Wakefield School AED came from a local family who wished to remain anonymous.

Anne-Marie Harris, St John Nelson Marlborough area manager, said cardiac arrest continued to be our silent killer.

“Using an AED is easy, and we want people to be comfortable to take action. The AED will tell you what to do. If you can use a cell phone, you can use an AED.”

St John community engagement coordinator Sarah Carpinter said St John would offer free training. sessions in the community to help people gain confidence in using the AED if ever needed.

The AED will be added to the AED locations app, making it easy for those in the rural community to find the device closest to them in an emergency.

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Wellington Free Ambulance

Media Release  

30 July 2019


Looking after Wellington’s Heart Kids thanks to AEDs in schools

Wellington Free Ambulance and HeartKids Wellington have teamed up with new charity, Embracing Hearts, to get automated external defibrillators (AEDs) into a number of schools across Wellington.


The schools selected to receive the new AEDs all have heart kids enrolled. These include Karori Normal School, Newlands Intermediate, Churton Park Primary, and St Mary’s College.


The aim is to see AEDs installed where they are needed most. 


Embracing Hearts founder Emma Lawler says as a heart mum, she knows first-hand just how worrying it can be sending your child to school. 


“The risk of heart failure is very real for many kids with congenital heart defects. We are so proud to be giving heart families, schools and their communities the reassurance of a defibrillator right there if it’s needed,” Emma says.


New Zealand Comedian Dai Henwood has also come on board as an Embracing Hearts Patron.


He says donating defibrillators to schools with heart kids is an important task and is proud to be associated with the organisation.


“When there is equipment to help an emergency when it happens, it makes it easier for kids at school to just be kids. This will also potentially help save lives of others in their communities. How amazing is that,” Dai says.


The first AEDs for schools were purchased from Wellington Free Ambulance by the Buddle Findlay Child Health Foundation.


Newlands Intermediate Principal Angela Lowe says having the defibrillator is a privilege for us at our school. 

“While we have current students who are Heart Kids we will always have students or adults at our school that may need the support of these life saving devices,” Angela says.

“We are a community school and our turf, hall and grounds are used all day every day. Who knows when or who might need the device? In a perfect world the device will never be used but it’s so good to know it is here and we will all know how to use it. 

“It’s a gift for the community and we feel very honoured to have been selected especially when we know how much work goes in to fundraising for the devices and the support and training we will receive,” she says.

Heart Kids Wellington’s Annie Cunningham says our community are often active and having this device close by means if someone were to have a cardiac arrest suddenly, their chance of survival increases significantly.


“No one can predict if and when it will be needed so it's incredibly rewarding to see this happen. The schools and heart families really appreciate the support,” Annie says.

Amy Williams, Heartbeat coordinator at Wellington Free Ambulance, says over 70%of cardiac arrests happen at home; with the use of an AED, these survival rates can increase. So by having one in every school means one will be in reach for all communities.

“This is a great opportunity to not only ensure our tamariki can be safer at school but also help create safer communities around Wellington.

“While it is important AEDs are accessible to everyone, our hope is that they don’t need to be used – but if they do, people will know how to use them. Thanks to the Lloyd Morrison Foundation Wellington Free provide free CPR training sessions to schools, businesses and community groups across the Wellington Region,” Amy says.


For further information please contact our media team on 04 912 0367 or email









Photo: Back from left, Dee Harris, Rachael Hopkirk (Heart Kids Wellington), Amy Williams (Wellington Free Ambulance), Angela Lowe (Newlands Intermediate), Annie Cunningham (Heart Kids Wellington), Emma Lawler (Embracing Hearts), Charlotte von Dadelszen (Buddle Findlay Child Health Foundation). Front from left, Harrison, Ryan, Varun. Photo: Wellington Free Ambulance

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