IN SEPTEMBER 2022, a hire boater died on the Coventry Canal close to Huddlesford Junction and the moorings of Lichfield Cruising Club.
It is believed the man was taken ill while steering and there was a minor collision with a moored boat, following which he went into the water.
A small gathering of Russell Newbery Club boaters was on site and, after recovering the man to the bank, two of the members carried out CPR until the arrival of emergency services, but sadly the man passed away.
It is a fact that boaters spend a great deal of cruising time in remote locations, and the tragedy prompted much discussion amongst LCC members surrounding the likely difficulties and delays in getting emergency help to these locations.
The Coventry Canal is a popular cruising route, forming a vital link to the Trent & Mersey at Fradley Junction, the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Fazeley, as well as the Ashby and North Oxford canals.
Many boats a day pass through Huddlesford Junction or visit the nearby and popular Plough Pub, and the club members’ discussions centered around the fact that the man’s life might have been saved had a defibrillator been available nearby.
A plan was put together that cruising club members would raise the money to buy a defibrillator, by diverting profit from some of the club’s social events, and this was actioned and led by club commodore Joan Surplice.
Sadly during early 2023 one of LCC’s ex-commodores, Mike McDonald, lost his wife Sheila, a very popular lady who along with Mike had been a club member and active boater for many years.
Thanks to a generous donation in memory of Sheila, the club was able to bring forward its plans and a further donation, plus money raised by the club, enabled a second machine to be purchased.
The first of the defibrillators has now been located on the public side of the footbridge outside the Lichfield Cruising Club premises, and this is available should it be needed for anyone using the canal or for residents of nearby Huddlesford or Whittington who are being advised by leaflet of its presence.
There is a small ongoing cost for an electrical supply to the machine and this will continue to be met by the cruising club.
The second machine, which will be for use within the club, has been located in one of the mooring areas furthest from the club house near the club’s dry dock.
Commodore Joan said: “We are delighted to have been able to take this initiative to support network users and local residents; it would be good to think that other clubs or canalside businesses may be prompted to consider their own purchases and make the network a safer place.”
Should anyone be interested in pursuing the provision of a machine, excellent advice and guidance is available via the internet from heart care organisations, or Joan at LCC will more than pleased to chat about the process and costs involved, which are not great.