In the aftermath of a tragic death which shocked the community, one Wigan family is working tirelessly to help save lives across the borough.
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.
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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.
Together Maria, her nine-year-old daughter Keira, her son Connor and his girlfriend Emily, both 18, are running as often as they can to raise money for defibrillators across Wigan.
“Harry was a dad to six children: three grown-up girls, two grown-up boys and my littlest who is nine years old. He was an amazing dad and everyone who knew ‘us’ knew what he meant to me, my soul mate.
“Needless to say we as a family have found this to be a very difficult time because he was everything to us, but it’s been incredibly important to me to try create some normality in my daughter’s life but also to ensure her memories of Harry are positive ones.
“So we as a family celebrated Harry’s birthday in April by contributing lots of new musical instruments to my daughter Keira’s school.
“Harry was a musician. I wanted my husband to be remembered for what he loved.”
The mother and daughter duo, who are keen participants in charity runs such as the Wigan 10k, the Race for Life and various colour runs, were at the Wigan and Leigh 5k colour run on Sunday when tragedy struck in plain view.
“As you know a man died during the run,” she said. “We saw him getting CPR and as we collected our medals at the end we heard the shout go out for the family.
“It was very upsetting as it brought everything back to us, just the thought of what the poor family were going through and how it had affected us.
“We decided then that we wanted to do something to try and prevent these things from happening again. I work for the NHS and I have CPR Training every year so from first hand I know how important it is to have defibrillators.
“I know there are a few dotted around Wigan, but there’s not enough and there should be one in every school and public building. I know that’s a big ask so I am starting with what we can do as a family.”
The Lawton family will begin their fundraising quest by taking part in the nationwide Glow in the Park 5k on October 28.
Their primary aim is to raise £2,000 for one defibrillator, and from there they will embark upon a mission to raise enough for more and more. Statistics show that using a defibrillator in the first three to five minutes can increase the chance of survival by 68 per cent.
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