TWO years ago, Nikki Rouse Thompson’s life changed forever.
Her husband Paul Thompson, 38, died when he collapsed during football training due to a rare form of heart failure.
But now the mum-of-four, from nearby Aston, has tried to stay positive as she installed the first of six life-saving defibrillators at the scene of his death.
Mrs Rouse Thompson, who is targeting sports grounds, said: “We’ve had to start a new kind of normal because our life will never be the same again without Paul here.
“Our family life is just so different now and we all miss him very much every day – whether it’s mealtimes or family holidays.
“He was literally just taken in a split second and our whole lives changed in that moment.
“This is just the start of what we want to achieve – hopefully it will catch on so every sports club sees a need for them.”
Mr Thompson, who had a seven-year-old daughter called Lilli, worked for his father Michael’s Chipping Norton-based firm Thompson Heating and Plumbing Ltd and played bass in two bands.
Paul Thompson collapsed and died while playing football
He played for Witney Royals Football Club with his brothers Matt, 26, and Chris, 23, and stepson Eddie Rouse, 18, trained with them.
He was training in Burwell Meadow when he collapsed on July 17, 2012, and was pronounced dead in an ambulance taking him to hospital.
A St John Ambulance volunteer who lived nearby was alerted and shocked Mr Thompson with a defibrillator she owned but it was too late.
An inquest recorded that Mr Thompson had two minor heart valve abnormalities, which contributed to his death.
Mrs Rouse Thompson, a registered nurse, set up the Legacy for a Legend charity with her husband’s friend Steve Hawkins in November 2012 and has raised £12,000.
The charity has used qualified trainer Nick Thompson – no relation to her husband – to give free first aid lessons to 40 people and wants to safeguard sports teams and communities.
The first defibrillator was installed at Burwell Meadow yesterday and two more have been earmarked for sports grounds in Milton-under-Wychwood and Ducklington.
Another three devices are expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Mrs Rouse Thompson said: “We will never know if it could have saved him but by having a defibrillator at the ground he could have been treated a lot quicker. It’s something that will be there for people if needed because the closest one is in the centre of Witney.
“My vision is for every sports ground or playing field to have a defibrillator or one nearby within easy distance.
“But it’s not just for footballers and people taking part in sports, it’s for the whole community.”
Mr Thompson’s brother Matt, who lives in Woodstock, raised about £8,000 split between the charity and Rotary Charity Fundraisers by taking part in the Ironman UK triathlon in Bolton on July 20.
He said: “I had never done anything like that before and had to learn to swim properly but I wanted to make him proud.
“He was always self-motivated and that spurred me on.”
The defibrillator appeal comes as South Central Ambulance Service divisional responder manager Dick Tracey is campaigning to increase the number of county machines from 120 to 320.
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