A LIFESAVING defibrillator has been unveiled at the heart of a popular shopping centre.

The new piece of equipment was unveiled on Friday in the Newland Shopping Centre, Witham, with the ribbon being cut by MP Priti Patel.

Steve Robbins, community manager for Hunnaball Funeral Directors, was instrumental in getting the defibrillator installed.

He said: “Sadly, I needed to use a unit in the town but didn’t know where to find one so after the tragic event I researched and found that although there were defibrillators in the town they were not accessible 24 hours a day.

"I approached Witham Chamber of Commerce and The Witham Town Team to see if they could help as we are members."

The Chamber applied for help from the Big Lottery Fund who provided the money to get one installed.

Tina Townsend, chair of the Witham Chamber of Commerce, said: “Evidence shows the chances of survival from a cardiac arrest is 80% if a device is used within that time.

"Without a defibrillator, the chances of survival reduce to just 2%. I hope any families in the community who may have lost a loved one due to a cardiac arrest will get comfort that a defibrillator is now installed and will help to save life’s in the future.

“I would like to thank Steve for bringing this to our attention so that we could act upon this and to everyone who has been part of this project, the business community for their support and to Newlands Shopping Centre for agreeing to site the defibrillator.”

Training will be offered to members of staff from the shopping centre for just £5 and free training will be offered to year 9 and above pupils in local academies.

Ms Patel said: ""I was extremely saddened to learn of the heart-breaking story that spurred the Witham Chamber of Commerce Chair, to apply for funding to install a defibrillator unit in the Newlands Shopping Centre.

"Whilst I unveiled the lifesaving unit, my thoughts were firmly with the deceased's family in the hope this tragic situation will not happen again.

"I commend Witham Chamber of Commerce for securing the necessary funding from the Big Lottery Fund and to New River Retail, who operate the Newland Shopping Centre, for their support."

For more information about the chamber click here.