THE widow of Paul Thompson, who collapsed and died on the football field last July, has given his former club a defibrillator to try to prevent more heart deaths.
Nikki Rouse-Thompson, 41, of Aston, near Witney, presented the £900 defibrillator to Witney Royals FC at a charity ball at Witney’s Four Pillars Hotel on Friday.
A defibrillator was used to help save the life of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba in 2012.
Mother-of-four Mrs Rouse-Thompson, the hotel’s reservations co-ordinator, launched a charity and resuscitation training scheme in her husband’s honour after his death.
Since then, with the help of his friends, she has been fundraising to offer free heart resuscitation training to sports clubs across the county.
She said: “It is wonderful to know there will now be a defibrillator at the Witney Royals ground, should it be needed.
“We have also given 12 members of the club resuscitation training and are continuing to offer free training to sports clubs.
“It is our hope that many will also, with our help, fund their own defibrillators.”
Mr Thompson, a plumbing and heating engineer and father to a daughter Lilli, five, and three step-children, Lucas, 19, Eddie, 17 and Hannah, 16, collapsed at Witney Royals’ Burwell Meadow ground during training.
He had visited his GP in February 2012 suffering chest pains and had been diagnosed with two heart valve abnormalities. But nothing was detected to suggest he should not lead a normal life.
Mrs Rouse-Thompson, a trained nurse, tried with paramedics to resuscitate her husband but all attempts were in vain.
An inquest later found he had suffered a very rare form of heart failure and recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.
Following her husband’s death, Mrs Rouse-Thompson launched the charity LegacyforaLegend and fundraising close to £10,000 helped to buy the defibrillator, which uses electrical charges to re-start the heart.
Colin Morris, chairman of Witney Royals FC, said: “When Paul collapsed we were lucky to have a Community First Responder arrive with a defibrillator ahead of the paramedics. But we know this can’t always be the case.
“Tragically this didn’t save Paul, but should the worst happen again, our football club will have one available.”
The arrival of the device comes after Chesterton Football Club got to grips with a defibrillator at an event last month after one was put up at the Alchester Road ground.
Mrs Rouse-Thompson plans a fundraising music festival locally next July. She said: “We all miss Paul very much but it helps that we are doing something positive in his name.”