A pub in South Wimbledon has unveiled what is hoped to be the “first of many” defibrillators which have been completely funded by the local community.

Regulars at The Sultan were joined by The Mayor of Merton, Joan Henry, The Deputy Mayor of Merton, Agatha Akyigyina OBE and Councillor Ellie Stringer for the unveiling at 7pm on Tuesday evening.

Gary Robinson, who has managed The Sultan for four years, told Wimbledon Times: “What we have done here with raising the funds for the defibrillator is just typical of how this place operates.

“This is just a measure of the community spirit here.

“The idea to raise money for a defibrillator came initially off the back of a conversation I had.

“Nobody knew where the nearest defibrillator was and it was not until we googled it that we realised that the closest one is in big Sainsbury’s in Colliers Wood, which is a fair way away.

“We got through Covid without losing any of our regulars but in the last four or five months we have sadly lost two of our regulars to heart failures.”

Wimbledon Times: The Mayor of Merton, Joan Henry, The Deputy Mayor of Merton, Agatha Akyigyina OBE and Councillor Ellie Stringer and Gary RobinsonThe Mayor of Merton, Joan Henry, The Deputy Mayor of Merton, Agatha Akyigyina OBE and Councillor Ellie Stringer and Gary Robinson (Image: NQ)

The community began raising money for the defibrillators back in March this year and have raised £4600 so far.

The Sultan, which is a Hopback Brewery pub, has been encouraging pub goers to take part in their “find the joker” game in order to raise money for life-saving equipment.

Each week the person with the winning raffle ticket has the chance to turn over a card on the board in the hope of finding the joker.

Whoever finds the joker, takes home half of the total money, with the other half donated to the defibrillator scheme.

Wimbledon Times: Gary and bartender Amelie alongside the "find the joker" gameGary and bartender Amelie alongside the "find the joker" game (Image: NQ)

Previously, London Ambulance Service was not providing or storing the access codes of locked defibrillators to 999 callers but it has recently changed its stance and joined a national database.

However, the service “continue to recommend people purchase unlocked defibrillators where possible” as it claims, “locked cabinets can create potential delays”.

Gary said: “I’ve had a bit of good luck as well, recently the London Ambulance Service have changed their policy where locked defibrillators are now on their database

“So, if anybody dials 999 they can get the access code and use it – so it really is for everyone.

“It is an amazing bit of kit and it is your money that has bought it.

“In its five year life span it should deliver 200 shocks – but in a bit of twisted irony let’s hope that we never have to use it.”

Wimbledon Times: The new defibrillator at the SultanThe new defibrillator at the Sultan (Image: NQ)

Gary explained that the defibrillator is suitable for both children and adults, is heated, lights up in the dark and even talks you through the process of saving someone’s life.

The All-Saints Church, which has also been contributing to the fundraising efforts, will be the next venue to receive a defibrillator.

It is hoped to be installed in around two weeks time.

The next location in line for a fundraised defibrillator would be the All-Saints Community Centre.

Following this, the pub has said that they are “open to suggestions” for other venues that may benefit from having one installed.

Gary explained that the plan is to “saturate the local community with defibrillators” as you “just can’t have enough.”

Councillor Eleanor Stringer for Wandle Ward said during a speech at The Sultan: “This is an excellent example of what small businesses can do by pulling together, taking the initiative and supporting their local community.

“What an amazing community we have.

“I’m here to say a massive thank you to Gary and a massive thank you to all of you.”

The Mayor of Merton, Joan Henry, said: “I am so honoured and so proud to see our community come together and make one of these available.

“Please keep giving because there are so many places like this who would like to have one.”

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, every second saved in accessing and using a defibrillator improves their chances of survival, yet locked cabinets can create potential delays.

“We have recently joined up to a national database of public defibrillators which holds codes for locked defibrillator cabinets that 999 call handlers can access if they have been registered by the owners.

“However, we continue to recommend people purchase unlocked defibrillators where possible, as recommended by the Resuscitation Council, to avoid any life-threatening delay.”