Nottingham mum nominated for Pride of Britain after securing defibrillators for local football clubs

ITV News Central Correspondent Jane Hesketh has been speaking with Pride of Britain nominee Amanda Vennell

A Nottingham mum said she was driven to raise funds for defibrillators for local football clubs after Danish footballer Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during the Euros.

Amanda Vennell, from Gedling, has single-handedly raised funds for defibrillators to be placed at local grass root football clubs after she was appalled with the lack of life-saving equipment.

Ms Vennell began campaigning for her son's club after she saw Danish footballer Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch during the Denmark V Finland in June 2021, as part of the delayed Euro 2020.

She was shocked at how quickly he was revived using a portable defibrillator on the ground after his heart stopped beating.

Speaking to ITV News Central, Ms Vennell said: "It wasn't the nicest thing to watch being a football fan, regardless of what team you support."

"You just hope they are fine and thankfully he was and he is now playing football which is great to see."

"Really, it was Eriksen that made me think this needs to be sorted in the lower leagues and the grassroots clubs."

Ms Vennell thought defibrillators should be an essential bit of kit at every football ground.

Her young son plays for a local team Mapperley All Stars, and when she found out the nearest defibrillator to their club was a mile away she set about raising money to buy one.

Amanda wanted to give local football clubs better life-saving equipment Credit: ITV News Central

In just over a year the Nottingham Forest fan has raised enough money for 25 defibrillators for grassroots clubs in Nottinghamshire.

She took to Twitter and Facebook and organised raffles, auctions and events at a local sports bar, determined to provide her club with life-saving equipment.

A defibrillator checks the heart's rhythm and sends a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm. The device is used to help people having a cardiac arrest.

Ms Vennell said: "Since I've been fundraising there has been quite a lot of tragedies within the grassroots family, a couple of players locally have passed away from cardiac arrest, I think they should be accessible handily instead of being in a box and having to ring for a code." 

"These clubs should have them in their hands ready to be used."

Her determination was widely applauded by the football community, and she was spurred on to raise more money for defibrillators for other clubs in Nottinghamshire.

Chairman of Mapperley All Stars, Mark Buckley, (left) standing next to the clubs new defibrillator Credit: ITV News Central

Speaking to ITV News Central, chairman of Mapperley All Stars, Mark Buckley said: "It's extraordinary, when I heard about it I thought it would be one or 2 she would secure, but to get 25 for teams in Nottingham is a real achievement."

"We are mighty proud of her here at Mapperley All Stars."

The club has 200 children play every weekend with brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. Having life-saving equipment to hand gives the managers and coaches peace of mind.

Mr Buckley said: "Before Amanda bought the defib our nearest one was a mile away, so someone would have to go a mile away should anything happen, to have one on-site is massive for us."

All grassroots football clubs are not for profit, so usually, equipment like this is unaffordable

Ms Vennell said: "Every bit of money they get is already allocated, whether its training equipment, kits or paying for somewhere to train, all that money is accounted for so they can't afford to purchase these [defibrillators]."

She says she is not stopping at 25 defibrillators as she plans to keep raising money for more,  knowing they could save a  life.