Phone box defibrillator project remembers paramedic killed while responding to emergency

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is to take place this Friday at the site of an old telephone box, affectionately known as Bertie Bargates, which is now a base for a life-saving defibrillator.

Jeremy Daw died after being struck by a stone while travelling in an ambulance
Jeremy Daw died after being struck by a stone while travelling in an ambulance

The Bertie Bargates Restoration Project involving the old red telephone kiosk was launched more than a year ago to raise £4,000 for the clean-up.

Members of Leominster in Bloom partnered with Leominster Rotary Club to launch the appeal which has seen a defibrillator housed in the kiosk.

The work has been dedicated to the memory of a late local paramedic Jeremy Daw, who was universally known as Jack, who was killed when a stone hit his ambulance at the junction of Moreton Road and the A49 in Herefordshire while responding to an emergency with a colleague.

Bertie now houses a community defibrillator for the Bargates, Barons Cross and Buckfield Road areas

Gill Ding, secretary of Leominster in Bloom and Tourist Information manager, said: "Jack tragically died after being struck by a stone as he travelled to an emergency.

"His widow, Dawn Daw, will officially cut the ribbon at 2pm during a ceremony to be attended by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Lady Susanne McFarlane and the Mayor Trish Marsh.

"There will be a plaque dedicated to Jack placed on the phone box.

"It is fantastic that the money for the restoration of the phone box has been raised.

"It has been quite a long project but we wanted to tidy up the kiosk that will now help save lives.

"Sponsors, volunteers and members of the Leominster community will be attending the ceremony."

The iconic 1936 cast iron K6 General Post Office phone box was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and weighs three-quarters of a ton, and bears crowns in the top mouldings.

Bertie was decommissioned in 2014 when Leominster in Bloom members decided to prevent the neglected kiosk from becoming an eye-sore.

Bertie Bargates before the restoration project
A cleaned up Bertie

Now the kiosk is one of 1,000 similar boxes given by BT to the Community Heartbeat Trust which has seen 600 defibrillators installed.

The £4,000 needed for the restoration was raised by crowd-funding, sponsorship, and generous help from Leominster Town Council.

BT are paying for the lighting and frost protection for seven years and the paint industry federation provided the paint free-of-charge.

Leominster Rotary provided the 72 new panes of toughened glass.

Local blacksmith Ross Chance carried out many hours of invaluable work on the project.

Bertie was commissioned in May 2022 and has been fully operational since then, with operational safety checks carried out weekly.

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