BCF celebrates 10 years working with Community Heartbeat Trust: 750 disused phone boxes transformed into life-saving defibrillator stations and £100,000 donated

27 June 2023

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) is celebrating a decade of supporting the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT), donating more than £100,000 and transforming more than 750 unused iconic red phone boxes into life-saving defibrillator stations through the Minutes Matter campaign.

In June, BCF held its third annual charity bike ride in support of CHT, starting at their office in Coventry before covering the breadth of the local Warwickshire countryside. This year’s event had a record-breaking 83 riders, over double the number in 2022, who raised more than £19,000 for CHT. BCF participants have now cycled a total of 12,265km, a distance equivalent to travelling from London to New York and back. This builds on the more than £25,000 raised in previous years’ bike rides and donations from various BCF events.

BCF has been working alongside CHT since 2013, through the Minutes Matter campaign. BCF members use their expertise to provide a paint system of undercoat and traditional red topcoat (worth around £75) to every local community that installs a defibrillator in a disused phone box. As of today, BCF members have given approximately £56,000 worth of paint to transform 750 unused phone boxes across the country into defibrillator stations.

BCF’s partnership with CHT was born out of a tragic event in BCF CEO Tom Bowtell’s village, one that could have been prevented had there been a defibrillator nearby. For every minute that someone in cardiac arrest is not receiving CPR or the assistance of a defibrillator, their chance of survival decreases by 10 per cent. The UK Resuscitation Council suggests a defibrillator should be no more than five minutes away from wherever medical treatment is required.

The CHT, by repurposing thousands of decommissioned and unused red phone boxes, aims to preserve the lives of 60,000 people, that is half of those who suffer from cardiac arrest every year.

Tom Bowtell, CEO of BCF, said: “I am inordinately proud of the work we do with the Community Heartbeat Charity, now in our 10th year of partnership through the Minutes Matter campaign. This has given 750 communities across the UK access to a potentially life-saving defibrillator, plus giving a new lease of life to iconic red phone boxes found in most villages. I would like to thank our members for their kind and generous contributions and look forward to hitting the 1000-phone box conversion mark in the not-too-distant future!”

Martin Fagan, National Secretary of the CHT said: “The Community Heartbeat Trust charity is delighted to partner again with the BCF on its annual bike ride and thanks the BCF team and members for all their support over the years. Cardiac Arrest affects 60,000 people a year across the UK and the current survival rate post-hospital is only 9%. We aim to increase this to 50% by providing the correct defibrillators for communities and grassroots sports, but also by having these supported by education programmes, long-term resilience programmes and Governance. To date, we have delivered over 8,500 programmes throughout the UK. We have just concluded discussions with BT about a programme for the next few years to have even more disused phone boxes available. Changing technology is also bringing new opportunities, so this is a very exciting time to be involved in this important area.”

Image caption: BCF CEO Tom Bowtell and Community Heartbeat Trust National Secretary Martin Fagan with riders at BCF’s third annual Charity Cycle, Ride Warwickshire

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