At the beating heart of the community


With Valentine’s Day this month and all the talk of happy hearts around, it’s the perfect moment to celebrate how one Devon-based community is keeping hearts beating. 

Martin Copeman shared his story with Sembler Chloe last week. This is the account  of one passionate guy who saw a need in his community and took decisive action, building relationships with local businesses and  galvanising the local Devon community 

Martin’s brother died from a cardiac arrest 11 years ago. He might have been saved if there had been a defibrillator close by. At the time the nearest public access defibrillator was almost a mile away, a long cry from the NHS guidelines. When Martin heard of other local people experiencing the same thing, and with the community suffering increased waiting time for ambulances due to NHS funding cuts, he knew he had to take action.

Having nearby defibrillators is essential in what is a densely populated area. The main reason so few people survive a cardiac arrest is due to a defibrillator not being available quickly enough. If a defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3 to 5 minutes of a cardiac arrest the chance of survival increases from 6% to 74%.

Martin started the Preston / Paignton Community Defibrillator Project (PCDP) in 2018 and began fundraising for public access defibrillators to install in communities in Devon. 

Martin’s story and his passion gained him huge support. Local Pub, The Ship nominated PCDP to receive funding from the Made Local Fund which paid for two public access defibrillators, fitted with instructions to make sure anyone can use them. 

Since then, several local community businesses have been inspired to install the life-saving machines. To date, there are 24 Emergency Units now installed in the nearby Devon area with six more coming this year. Martin’s even been contacted by a local company that fits toilets and is going to install the machines in their new public toilets. All this started with a plan to install just two!

To make the most of his community initiative, Martin, who works as an NHS Clinical Tutor, has trained over 200 people in CPR and the important role that defibrillators play in saving lives. 

The result? The machines have already saved a life! And have been used in 8 other emergency incidents.

This all started with one determined individual who saw a need in his local area community. By connecting with his community and working with others, he initiated a project which now has a momentum all of its own. Reaching out and working with others really can amplify impact. So don’t forget to create connections and share your story.

If you’d like to support the Project which is now fundraising for replacement batteries for some machines, check out Martin’s Go Fund Me page.  

For more great stories of community action follow us on social @SembleUK.

About the Author:

Chloe works to ensure Semble comms are inspiring and impactful. She’s dedicated to nourishing, strengthening and growing our community through awesome communications. Inspiring and empowering others is what lights her up. When not at work Chloe is happiest in the sea, in a forest, on a yoga mat or lying in the sun.