Grieving family backs defib campaign

The family of a Wigan man who died at a charity fun run has backed a campaign to boost the number of defibrillators in the borough.

Friday, 29th September 2017, 9:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 3:56 pm
Neil Rigby (second from left) with his family at the colour run

Maria Lawton, from Orrell, suffered the loss of her husband and “soulmate” Harry on January 23 this year, a day she should have been celebrating her 49th birthday.

Harry, who was in intensive care following a car crash, had moved ward after showing signs of improvement but shortly after suffered a massive heart attack and died aged just 53 years old.

Just months later Maria was taking part in the Wigan and Leigh 5k Colour Run with her nine-year-old daughter Keira, when she heard about Neil Rigby, who collapsed and died at the scene.

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Following this tragic event, Maria, along with Keira, her son Connor and his girlfriend Emily, both 18, decided to raise money for defibrillators to “prevent these things from happening again”.

Team H, as they are affectionately known, will begin their series of runs on October 28.

On finding out about Maria’s campaign, Neil’s family publicly backed the campaign, asking for money to be given to Maria’s cause instead of flowers at his funeral next month.

June Rigby, Neil’s widow, said: “We are devastated and broken at losing Neil. He was my forever together, that’s what we planned.“I saw what Maria was doing after the impact and reminders of seeing Neil fall on Sunday. Defibs in public places are and always will be something we all feel strongly about. It’s the what ifs. If a defib was available to Neil sooner maybe there’s a chance we would still have him here. We cannot turn back time but going forward if a defib was available in public places we may save lifes. Team H are doing the most amazing thing.”

The group’s primary aim is to raise £2,000 for one defibrillator, with the ultimate goal of providing a machine at each public hall or school across the borough.

June added: “We are also doing a balloon message release at the wake and Team H are to get all monies from that too.”

Neil’s funeral will take place at St Anne’s Church, Beech Hill, at noon on Thursday October 5. To donate to Team H visit