Hampshire hamlet helped to turn disused telephone box into a potentially life-saving resource

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is helping a Hampshire hamlet to prepare itself for winter with the life-saving equipment and skills needed to see its residents safely through an emergency situation. 

On the banks of the River Swift, the village of Upton is home to around 250 residents, who realised a defibrillator would enable them to act swiftly in situations where the area may be flooded and emergency services would struggle to quickly reach a resident or visitor in need of urgent medical attention. 

With help from the Parish Councils of Hurstbourne Tarrant and Vernham Dean, the villagers secured the funding for its purchase and identified a disused telephone box as an ideal central location to house the life-saving equipment, but quickly encountered a problem they hadn’t banked on. 

Borough Councillor Phil North explains: 

“Our Parish Councillor John Bentley and his children replaced the old 'telephone' signs using the new 'defibrillator' signs on perspex panels, and volunteers from the village kindly cut back some years of undergrowth and gave the phone box a good clean inside and out, ready for the installation of the defibrillator. It was at that point we discovered that the power supply had been disconnected some years previously when it had been decommissioned by the phone company.” 

While the funding for the defibrillator itself had been raised through a joint project between both Hurstbourne Tarrant and Vernham Dean Parish Councils, along with a generous donation from District Councillor and Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Phil North, no further funds were available to reconnect the much needed power supply that would provide the area with a fully functioning defibrillator and illuminated, secure housing for the equipment. 

Councillor North continued:

“We had contacted Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks to enquire about the cost and process for reinstating the supply and when they heard our plight, they offered to carry out the reconnection free of charge. The project couldn’t have gone ahead without their help and while the defibrillator has yet had to be used, it is now cosy, ready and waiting to save lives in its heated cabinet, and easily spotted now the phone box is again illuminated at night.” 

SSEN’s Head of Region for the area, Craig Rankin said: 

“I’m delighted that in this small way, SSEN has been able to boost the life-saving abilities of Upton’s residents. We put our customers at the heart of all we do and understand the need for our rural communities to be as resilient as they can, especially as we head towards the winter months. 

“I’d like to thank our team in Andover who so kindly volunteered to reinstate this connection in their own time and I hope that it’s a very long time, if ever, before the defibrillator needs to be put to use.”