ROB Wishart’s welcome return to Allendale last week brought a sigh of relief throughout the Allen Valleys.

It came just a month after the 42-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest during the Allendale Challenge fell race on April 8.

The runner received CPR at the scene before being airlifted to hospital, and now it is hoped he is on the road to a full recovery.

But while the dramatic incident had a happy ending, it made local people take stock of the fact that Allendale does not currently have a defibrillator.

Dave Stevenson, landlord of the King’s Head pub, orchestrated the Community Access Defibrillator Project earlier this month, with a view to purchasing a life-saving device for the village.

And within a week of fund-raising getting under way, the £1,800 target had been reached.

Mr Stevenson said: “Rob came into the pub for a cup of tea after withdrawing from the Allendale Challenge, because he was feeling unwell.

“He then went back out to see his partner Kerry finish the race, and while he was out there, he suffered a cardiac arrest.

“Everyone was concerned about what happened to Rob, and it made us all think that as a community, we really need a defibrillator.

“People have generously donated. All we have done at the King’s Head is provide the facilities for the funds to be raised.”

Allendale is one of very few communities throughout Tynedale which currently does not have a defibrillator.

Over the past 18 months, the illuminated green boxes filled with life-saving kit have gradually been installed in our local towns and villages.

The Stephen Carey Fund was established in North Northumberland more than four years ago in memory of a 21-year-old footballer who tragically died after collapsing on the pitch.

His story hit home in Tynedale in 2015 when Otterburn’s Adam Stephen (18) miraculously survived a sudden cardiac arrest during a football match at Haydon Bridge, when off-duty medics rushed to his aid with a defibrillator.

It inspired a partnership between the Courant and the charity, with a collective aim of raising awareness and funds through the Heart of Gold campaign.

The successful campaign, in 2015 and 2016, raised almost £10,000 towards the installation of public access defibrillators in Tynedale.

Vice chairman of the Stephen Carey Fund, Dougie McEwan, said the organisation continues to run entirely on a voluntary basis, and exists to help communities across Northumberland gain access to defibrillators.

He added: “We are there to help any community in Northumberland.

“We will help them access the equipment at the best possible prices. We provide training and also offer support and advice.”

Mr McEwan said the fund has reached a significant milestone, with the installation of its 100th defibrillator in the county, at the Farriers Arms in Shilbottle.

He added: “Because we are a voluntary organisation, I think that encourages people to make donations, because every penny we receive goes towards the purchase of life-saving equipment.”

The Stephen Carey fund is keen to hear from anyone interested in volunteering their time to help out.