The Independent London Newspaper
23rd May 2017

Mother of girl who died from sudden cardiac arrest campaigns for life-saving defibrillators to be installed at all schools

    Rosh Keegan, and her daughter Ani, who died at Camden School for Girls

    Rosh Keegan, and her daughter Ani, who died at Camden School for Girls

    Published: 12 May, 2016
    By TOM FOOT

    THE mother of a teenager who died from a sudden cardiac arrest says she has summoned the courage to campaign for the introduction of life-saving heart equipment in schools.

    Rosh Keegan, who lives in Kentish Town, said it was “crazy” that defibrillator machines were not available along with standard first-aid equipment.

    She spoke movingly at an emotional reception with Camden teachers, the singer Ms Dynamite and Baroness Tessa Jowell at Camden School for Girls last night (Wednesday). It is 13 years since her daughter, Ani, collapsed and died in the Sandall Road secondary school aged 14. The tragedy could have been prevented had school staff had access to a defibrillator.

    Ms Keegan said: “The government talks about defibrillators and better education – but it is only ever a recommendation. I say, ‘Hey, come on, it’s time we did something about it. We need to change things. I think we could save lives together. Let’s use our loaves an get on with it’.”

    “We need to make sure every school we know gets a defibrillator – it’s like having an ambulance at the end of your road. It’s not good enough that a few schools have it and some don’t.” 

    She added: “It seems crazy that, 13 years after my daughter’s death, nothing has been changed. This is what is pushing me and propelling me forward. I have been thinking for a long time about this but I didn’t have the courage to do it. But I am fearless now.”

    Ms Keegan has raised £5,000 for charity Hand on Heart to supply a defibrillator to seven Camden schools and train up staff and children in how to use them. 

    She has convinced each of the schools to raise funds of their own to install one in another Camden school on the same condition. 

    Singer-songwriter Ms Dynamite – who knew Ani as a young girl – said: “I love the idea of schools raising money for each other – it is such an important lesson for young people. We don’t know how many other lives could be saved.”

    Teachers from Camden's schools join Mrs Keegan to back the campaign for defibriliators 

    Baroness Jowell said: “This may be a very little box, but it is a great piece of kit. It can save lives. And this one carries with a very special message of love and optimism.”

    Ani had a physical disability – which didn’t affect her heart – but was otherwise in perfect health at the time of her death.

    Ms Keegan said: “Ani died after an hour of resuscitation, but by the time the ambulance came it was too late. No amount of CPR can save you if you haven’t got a defib’.”

    The schools taking part are Eleanor Palmer, where Ani went to primary school, La Sante Union, William Ellis, Parliament Hill, Acland Burghley, Camden School for Girls and King’s Cross Academy. 

    Ms Keegan said: “Ani was so passionate about her school. She could have died anywhere. And I think if she hadn’t died at the school I wouldn’t be doing this now. Maybe this is the reason why it happened there. She would have been 28 this year.

    Ms Dynamite at Camden School for Girls, where Baronesa Tessa Jowell was also a speaker

    “Her community was not just one school, she had friends and connections to several schools. So this is not just about the defib’, it’s about teaching nurturing and loving – and getting one school to look after another.”

    Ms Keegan is well known around Kentish Town and Tufnell Park as the “Bhaji Queen” for her popular Indian delicacies she used to cook for the Bumblebee health food shop in Brecknock Road.

    She said she would come out of retirement to cook for 300 people at a fundraising event at Camden School for Girls on June 11. There will be an auction with artwork by Eileen Cooper, Ralph Steadman and “HimBad” – the street artist behind a lot of the recognisable wall murals around Camden Town. 

    Comments

    why not jsut get one

    If I was a headteacher I would just shell out the £1000 needed from my own savings. Heads earn about 100k a year and there are four of them in your photo, out of a duty of care. Or at least have a whip round the higher earners in the school, deputy heads and senior teachers earn over 50k a year. Why wait 14 years,just get one ASAP!!! Once you have got one it is there to potentially save a life. Here is a direct challenge to the four heads in the photo, do without your summer hol and don't tell me you don't take one that costs 1k!! Just for one year!! Anyway, this is what I would do as a head with the responsibility of over 1000 people and if the council are not forthcoming with the cash!!!

    You haven't worked in a school, have you?

    People aren't 'just' gonna buy something costing £1000. That's quite a bit of money and hugely unfair on 1 person to buy it. This was a freak incident and for the majority of headteachers, it would never serve a purpose until even after they leave.

    Children generally aren't prone to cardiac arrests and this poor girl probably had other issues that caused it.

    Why don't you, save, take a loan out to pay for the equipment? Only then will I respect your opinion, Oh Anonymous one.

    Amazing - huge congratulations to Rosh and all supporting her!

    Huge congratulations to Rosh Keegan for her tenacity in bringing this together and Camden School for Girls for their support.

    Just wonderful that seven local schools benefit from this venture and great to see that they too, are giving back to other schools.

    How special for communities to come together but most importantly, how this action might go towards saving a precious little life.

    Good luck Rosh in a sell-out and huge success for the fundraising event on 11th June at Camden School for Girls. No doubt you'll spoil them with your delicious Indian cuisine - hope the fundraising goes from strength to strength!

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