Petition surge hits campaign target

Share Button
Supporters of the campaign working hard to raise awareness © Cllr Jake Morrison/CreativeComons/Flickr

Supporters of the campaign working hard to raise awareness © Cllr Jake Morrison/CreativeComons/Flickr

Supporters of the Oliver King campaign are getting ready for the next stage of their fight to get life-saving defibrillators installed in all schools and public buildings, after obtaining the 100,000 signatures required for Parliament to debate the issue.

In December the e-petition had only 25,000 names on it but with two weeks remaining, the foundation reached their target seeing more than 1,500 signatures added per hour in the final few days.

The Oliver King (OK) Foundation was created by Mark and Joanne King after their 12-year-old son died when his heart suddenly stopped from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) during a swimming lesson at King David’s High School in March  2011.

His parents believe that a defibrillator machine may have saved the schoolboy’s life.

An e-petition was set up in 2012 by The OK Foundation and for the past 12 months family, friends and supporters of the campaign have been working hard to secure the required signatures needed for the government to call a debate.

Wavertree Councillor and supporter of the campaign, Jake Morrison, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic! I have to drill in that only 16 petitions out of 20,000 have ever passed and, as much as every single one of us was determined, and the local press were determined to help out as well, we were never really sure if we were ever going to get to that stage and we have now and there’s a long process after this.

“All of these petitions have had some influence. They’ve either had debates in the House of Commons or they’ve had influence on changing policy or legislation and that’s clearly what we set up the petition for – to change legislation and to ensure that we save lives in the future by having defibrillators in schools and in public buildings.”

Jake Morrison alongside Mark King and Ben King after petition target was reached © JakeLabour/Twitter

Jake Morrison alongside Mark King and Ben King after petition target was reached © JakeLabour/Twitter

The government initially rejected the campaign last year when the online petition reached 20,000 signatures, but this by no means deterred the effort. The support grew and now the target has been reached, just two weeks before the deadline.

It is believed that 270 youngsters in the UK die each year from cardiac arrest while at school. Pinehurst Primary school was the first to receive a defibrillator as part of a scheme which is set to equip 122 local schools with the machines.
Cllr Morrison has outlined what their next plan of action will be.

He said: “The next step, we have to identify a sponsor MP who technically acts as the leader of this debate, so they will go to the Backbench Business Committee and we obviously want someone who cares passionately about this cause and believes in what we’re campaigning for. Then they will give us a date for when the Backbench Business Committee meets and hopefully that group of cross-bench MPs will decide that this is a priority campaign.”

Additional reporting by Tara Lamb

About Michaela Routledge, JMU Journalism