Two lifesaving defibrillators have been donated by Cavanna Homes to the family and school of 12-year-old Ella Halfyard who was diagnosed with a serious heart condition earlier this year. One defibrillator has been installed at Torquay Girls’ Grammar School and the other is portable, which means that Ella and her family have peace of mind whether she’s at home or out and about.
Cavanna Homes’ Sales Advisor Kevyn Dixon and Site Manager Willie Whitelaw, first became aware of Ella’s condition when her parents Lizzie and Tom Halfyard reserved a new five-bedroom home at Lyme View in the village of Holcombe near Dawlish. On the day they were due to collect the keys to their new home at the end of March, the couple were contacted by their daughter’s school to say an ambulance had been called for Ella.
As Lizzie explained: “The alarm was raised because she’d been unresponsive at school and although she recovered, this brought home how serious her condition is and how vital it is that she has a defibrillator with her at all times.”
The Halfyard’s were first alerted to Ella’s condition after she noticed some changes in her heart rate at school when resting, which was also confirmed by her PE Teacher. As a precaution, the keen young sportswoman had a temporary ECG monitor fitted at Torbay Hospital in February, but later the same week she was rushed to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children who were very concerned by the results.
As Lizzie recalled: “The results from the monitor flagged that Ella’s heart was beating too fast and could stop at any minute. It was a very scary time for us and so unexpected.”
Ella’s condition is now managed by beta-blockers which slow her heart rate and she will continue to be monitored for the next three years. “Ella is incredibly sporty and has always loved playing football, so having to give up sport has been very hard for her,” said Lizzie.
Cavanna Homes purchased both defibrillators after learning that the family were trying to fundraise for the lifesaving equipment.
Kevyn Dixon said: “As a Sales Advisor, you become close with the new homeowners and once I found out about Ella and everything her and her family have been through, it really struck a chord with me. I put the idea forward about purchasing the defibrillators for the family to the Senior Management Team and it was a unanimous yes!”
Keith Miller, Managing Director added: “This is exactly the sort of thing we’re proud to do by giving back to the communities we build in and to support our new homeowners. We hope that by purchasing this vital piece of equipment for Ella and her school it will provide added peace of mind and allow Ella to continue thriving at school.”
The equipment has been life-changing for Ella and provided reassurance for her parents Lizzie and Tom, and her two sisters Megan (15) and Rosie (7). “Ella can now attend school trips and join in activities without feeling like she’s missing out,” said dad Tom. “This was incredibly generous of Cavanna Homes and we’ll always be grateful to them,” he added.
“We also want to say how much we love our new home”, said Lizzie. “As a new build, there’s no need to do any DIY which has freed up our time to focus on our family and Ella’s condition. As the youngest of 12 siblings, I can’t wait to get the family over to celebrate us moving in!”