Milland villagers have come up with a novel use for their redundant telephone box: by giving it a major face lift and transforming it into a home for a life-saving defibrillator.
The scheme has been masterminded by Milland villager Claire Collins who collected villagers’ views and coordinated village fundraising to get the project off the ground.
“I decided to encourage the parish council to adopt our telephone box through the BT scheme,” said Mrs Collins. “The telephone inside had not been used for some time but after collecting a petition of about 100 signatures from local people it became clear the village didn’t want to lose it’s iconic box.”
Parish councillor Matt Cussack became involved with the refurbishment project which eventually ended in villagers having to get in a specialist company to sandblast away 50 years of paint to get back to the original cast iron frame. Millander Mark Dolphin and telephone box enthusiast Tim Ralph then repainted and glazed the box.
The project team contacted Malcolm Legg at South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) which was able to supply the lifesaving machine.
Mrs Collins said sudden cardiac attack is one of the country’s largest killers and emergency services could not always reach country villages in the required time.
The amount of time which elapsed between collapse to delivery of the first shock was critical.
Fundraising is already under way for the defibrillator and the refurbishment of the phone box in the form of a successful ‘Whose wine is it?’ event in the village hall.
“Many local people who were unable to attend, generously gave money,” said Mrs Collins. “The local Christmas Carol Singing group, who were disbanding, together with the parish council and Chichester District Council also donated funds. Raffle prizes were also generously supplied by Champneys and Ben Burston, landlord at the Rising Sun.”
The project was also given a huge boost by villager Bill Sims who recently lost his wife Sylvia and decided to fund the refurbishment of the telephone box in her memory. Sylvia lived in the village with Bill and their two daughters Sarah and Laura for 26 years.
As Sylvia choose not to have a grave stone, the family decided to fund the refurbishment and place a plague in the box to provide a fitting tribute to her.
The ambulance service has arranged to provide villagers with some first aid training on Saturday, April 21, when the telephone box will be officially unveiled in its new life- saving role.