Life-saving efforts in memory of Laura

Publication date 16 August 2022

The family and friends of a woman from Ayrshire who died tragically last year have continued their efforts to provide a lasting legacy and help save lives in the local area.

A group of people pose with a defibrillator

Laura Henderson was only 42 when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in March 2021. She was very active, and had been on a run when she collapsed without warning.

Despite the efforts of those who attended to her, Laura never regained ​consciousness, and passed away a few days later.

Since their tragic loss, Laura’s family have worked to honour her memory and leave a lasting legacy in the local area and beyond.

They have partnered with St John Scotland to install Public Access Defibrillators around the area Laura grew up, with the first installed at The Centre in Stewarton late last year.

Now, thanks to those who wanted to contribute to Laura’s memory, they’ve been able to donate a second defibrillator, this time at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Kilmarnock.

The device was officially unveiled on 31 July, with St John Scotland volunteers providing CPR and defibrillator awareness training to locals on the same day, to help them learn what to do in the event of cardiac arrest.

A group of people pose around the edge of a room with CPR manikins on the floor

Laura’s brother Jason said: “We were distraught to lose Laura at such a young age and in such sudden circumstances. It’s been an incredibly difficult time since she died, but as a family we were keen to do something positive in her memory, so we decided we wanted to install defibrillators around the area she grew up in Stewarton.

Laura was from Stewarton but attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel primary school in Kilmarnock. Laura spent many years in her younger days with her friends at school, and so there are lots of happy memories here. Laura made her first Holy Communion at Mount Carmel and it was therefore appropriate that we were able to contribute to a defibrillator for Mount Carmel c church.  We have been extremely welcomed by the Mount Carmel parish since we approached them - they have also been fantastic in promoting the work of St John Scotland. Laura’s brother Daren stays close by and will be able to raise awareness of cardiac arrest.”

Laura’s family have also funded a defibrillator to be located at the Robert Burns World Federation in Kilmarnock and are awaiting planning permission to install it. They continue to work with St John Scotland to identify further locations in Ayrshire where more life-saving defibrillators can be installed.

Jason continued: “We hope that by providing these defibrillators, we can prevent another family from going through the same heartbreak we have.”

Laura Henderson

Laura’s colleagues at Tennent’s brewery in Glasgow, where she worked before she died, have also been inspired to raise money in her memory.

They recently took on a ‘Reach for the Stars’ challenge, challenging each other to “get as close to the stars as possible” by climbing stairs, walking up hills or even tackling a Munro.

Fifty of Laura’s colleagues, and her close friend Kat, took part in the challenge over three months, together climbing 125,000 metres – the equivalent of scaling Ben Nevis 93 times. Together they raised £2,000, which Tennent’s have matched to make a total of £4,000, which will be put towards the cost of further defibrillators.

Stephen Dickson, Quality Manager from Tennent’s, said: “Laura was a shining light in the Tennents organisation, her infectious enthusiasm touched so many colleagues and customers and her bubbly personality will be remembered by us all. We felt the challenge was a fitting way to celebrate Laura’s memory and raise funds and awareness for such a fantastic charity. If we can help to save one life it will mean so much.”

A man taking a selfie at the top of a mountain

The brewery will now be working with St John Scotland to identify sites for further defibrillators to be placed in Laura’s memory.

Chair of St John Scotland’s team of volunteers in Ayrshire, Jess Duncan, said: “Laura’s death was a tragedy for her family and friends, but it’s been so comforting to see everyone coming together in her memory to raise funds and raise awareness of cardiac arrest, to prevent more people going through the same heartbreak.

“It’s been an honour for us to work with Laura’s family, and her friends and colleagues at Tennent’s, to provide defibrillators with the funds they have raised.

“We know that having easy access to a defibrillator can make a significant difference to someone’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. So we hope that by helping to provide them, and delivering CPR training in the community, we can work together to save lives.”