Three-time All-Ireland winner Conor Gormley was on-hand to present Omagh sports clubs with free defibrillators, months after one was used to save his father’s life during a match in Co. Tyrone.

All-Star Conor was accompanied by his father Sean, who was successfully resuscitated after collapsing in May while his son was playing for Carrickmore in a league match at Ardboe.

The defibrillators were provided by Sport Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities as part of their Defibrillators for Sport initiative, which has so far seen over 1,200 free devices distributed to local sports clubs and community groups. The scheme has also provided CPR training to over 1000 people and has involved a mapping exercise with the NI Ambulance Service to record the location of all the allocated devices.

Tyrone star Conor presented new defibrillators to Omagh Judo, Omagh Panthers Cheerleading, Seskinore Harriers Pony Club, Clogher Valley Rugby and Omagh Spires Special Olympics Club. Commenting on the difference the devices will make, he said:

“A few months ago, my dad had an episode and collapsed at a football match in Arboe and only for the defibrillator being there and being available, we could have a totally different story. We just wanted to say how important defibrillators are, that they’re regularly checked, regularly updated and that they’re accessible to use. You never know when you’ll need it, we didn’t know as a family going down to Ardboe to a Gaelic football match that evening that we would have needed one. We advise every club or any person that is in charge of them, keep them updated, keep them accessible and they’re a very very important piece of equipment. And we’d like to thank Sport Northern Ireland for all their work, they’ve delivered so many, over 1000 defibrillators to different sports clubs in Northern Ireland”

Fergus Devitt, Director of Active Communities at the Department for Communities added:“The Department for Communities has played a leading role in the provision of defibrillators, devices that have made our communities safer places to live.  The Department has provided significant funding that has helped with not just the deployment of 1200 defibrillators to sports clubs but also the training of volunteers in life saving CPR techniques and the use of the defibrillators.

“The Department would encourage all clubs who have a defibrillator to register it on the NI Ambulance Service database and to make it accessible to the local community.  The presence of defibrillators in our sports clubs, libraries, museums and other public spaces has, and will continue to, save lives.  Telling the story of how lives have been saved is an important part of making communities aware of the availability of these devices in their local sports club or at other locations.

“In the event of an incident, CPR should be started while the ambulance service is called to find out where the nearest defibrillator can be found.”

Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown added:

“Sports clubs lie at the heart of so many local communities here, and the Defibrillators for Sport initiative is helping clubs to not only promote safer sport, but safer communities also. We’re delighted to welcome Conor Gormley and his father Sean to today’s presentations. Their experience demonstrates the massive difference a defibrillator can make. Since it started in 2016, the Defibrillators for Sport initiative has made a significant impact in supporting the Department of Health’s Community Resuscitation Strategy. As well as increasing the number of devices available in community settings it has also more sport and community volunteers in CPR and the chain of survival. Research suggests that people who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have less than a one in ten chance of surviving – our aim is that, through this initiative, we can help to change this through the power of sport.”

Also in attendance at the event, was Tyrone player Richard Donnelly, who took time out from his busy training schedule ahead of the All Ireland Final against Dublin on Sunday.

Pictured: All Ireland winner and All Star Conor Gormley with his father Sean, who’s life was saved by a defibrillator and Tyrone Player Richard Donnelly with representatives from Sport Northern Ireland and the Emergency Services along with local clubs from the area including Omagh Judo, Omagh Panthers Cheerleading, Seskinore Harriers Pony Club, Clogher Valley Rugby and Omagh Spires Special Olympics Club.