Whiteparish First Responders
Contact: Elizabeth Philps , 01794-884974; a.e.philps(@)btinternet.com (remove brackets)

Whiteparish First Responders consist of a team of trained volunteers who work under the direction of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. The team takes it in turns to provide emergency health care and advanced First Aid for people living in the village and its surrounding area. The team are all volunteers and they log on as and when they can.

If you would like to know more details, ring Elizabeth Philps on 01794-884974


Stu providing ECG training in the King’s Head function room, 2018

It was with the saddest of hearts that we Whiteparish First Responders learned that our great friend, Paramedic and First Responder Trainer, Stuart, died peacefully at Salisbury Hospice on 5th June 2021.

Stuart was a founder member of the Whiteparish Community First Responders (CFR) group, some 15 years ago. His interest was so great as a direct result of being a CFR, that he went on to join the Ambulance Service as a student Paramedic at Bournemouth University in May 2010, rising through the ranks to become a highly skilled Specialist Paramedic.

Stuart never forgot that feeling of being a Responder, thrust into situations that we may never have faced, or ones that were extremely stressful. If any of us were called out and in need of reassurance or advice, we all knew that we could contact Stuart who had openly invited us to call him at any time, day or night for his help.

Stuart helped with responder training and his practical insight, together with bringing along specialist kit to show us how it worked on scene, helped show how we could help the Ambulance crews when we were there. However serious training was, Stuart always made the sessions more enjoyable with his, often dry, healthy sense of humour! However busy Stuart's Specialist Paramedic role was, he always supported us at First Responder village events, particularly at the annual village Hog Roast and Fete weekends, where we manned the First Aid station.

Stuart was such a lovely, funny man and was very well known in the village. Such was the respect he earned, that over 40 uniformed Ambulance Staff and CFRs formed a Guard of Honour at his funeral. He is such a very sad loss to his family, friends, us, and also to the wider Whiteparish and surrounding communities. We will miss him so much.

Jackie Hawker (and other members of Whiteparish CFRs)


The village owes Martin Fisher a debt of gratitude.

Around fifteen years ago—the exact date is lost in the mists of time—he set up Whiteparish Community First Responders (CFRs).

CFRs are dispatched by ambulance control with life saving equipment to look after a patient until a 999 response arrives.

Working under the direction and governance of the local ambulance service, he recruited and arranged training for a group of volunteers who have, ever since, provided an emergency medical response service for Whiteparish and the surrounding villages.

Very recently Martin put down his kit bag, oxygen and defibrillator for the last time. I would like to pay tribute to his dedication and commitment and thank him for persevering with an idea and turning it into a life-saving reality. I’m sure everyone else reading this will, too.

And whilst we’re thanking people, founder member Sheila Campbell also stopped responding recently, but she is still doing sterling service ensuring that the defibrillator outside the Parish Lantern is in A1 condition 24/7.

That means, of course, that we have a few vacancies to fill. If you’d like to join Whiteparish CFRs and train to help others in a medical emergency, have a look here (www.swast.nhs.uk) and search for Community First Responders. Alternatively drop me a line or give me a call.

Stuart McWilliam
Specialist Paramedic
07590 108971


Whiteparish CFRs join aircrew and other staff in front of air ambulance
At the crack of dawn on a foggy January day, Whiteparish Community First Responders set off on a road trip to Devizes and Bristol to learn more about two of South Western Ambulance Service’s special units. Our first stop was Wiltshire Air Ambulance, which currently lives in a complex behind Devizes Police HQ.

Critical care paramedics working on the aircraft explained the advanced treatment options they can deliver to the patient, including blood for transfusion, roadside anaesthetics and specialist equipment to support patients in cardiac arrest. The aircrew told us about the constraints the air ambulance flies under and the minimum space needed to land (a large tennis court will suffice, since you ask) and the fact that it can fly at night (thanks to night vision goggles), though this is always more dangerous for them (seeing power lines, etc.).

After a quick pit-stop at Subway for lunch, the intrepid group moved on to the HART base in Bristol. (HART stands for Hazardous Area Response Team.) The team comprises of specially trained clinicians who are able to deliver care in challenging situations and environments; those involving chemicals, working at height, going into collapsed buildings, and generally where patients are difficult to reach by conventional methods. There are more photos from the day in the website's Galleries section.

At the end of a very full day, we all felt we’d learnt a lot and had our eyes opened to what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ to help keep all of us safe. Thanks go to Stuart and Ben for volunteering to drive us in such horribly foggy conditions.

Jackie Hawker – CFR Secretary 01794 884 127


Jackie, Martin, and Deborah represent Whiteparish and Downton CFRs at SWAFST awards evening, October 2016
The date was Thursday, 6th October, 2016 for the first ever South-Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWAFST) Awards Night, and Martin Fisher, Deborah Martin, and Jackie Hawker went as CFRs to accept the award from Ken Wenman, SWAFST Chief Executive, on behalf of our Whiteparish & Downton group, which is the longest-established such group in Wiltshire. The event was held at the Engineers House, The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol. BS8 3NB.

The following is taken from SWAFST's own news item about the event.

October 2016

Every day hundreds of volunteers from across the south west attend incidents in their local communities on behalf of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). Sometimes the difference they make is simply providing reassurance prior to the arrival of an ambulance, sometimes their presence can mean the difference between life and death.

SWASFT is supported by more than 5,200 people who respond ahead of an ambulance via different initiatives including Community First Responder schemes (volunteers trained by the ambulance service to respond to certain incidents in their local communities, usually rural and isolated in nature) and British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS) Doctors (these medical professionals support ambulance clinicians by attending incidents, where their skills and knowledge often make all the difference). Colleagues from other organisations including the RNLI, St John Ambulance and fire service also act as responders and provide valuable assistance with many patients. Many SWASFT staff also attend incidents when they are off-duty by booking on with control. There are now more than 3,400 defibrillators registered with SWASFT. This number has increased significantly in recent years and in many cases it is a volunteer who coordinates the registration process.

As a way of thanking all of our volunteers for their hard work, dedication and commitment to helping others, the Trust is holding an awards ceremony at the Engineers House, The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol. BS8 3NB.

There are several award categories including New Community First Responder of the Year, Community First Responder Group Award, BASICS Volunteer Award and Chief Executive’s Commendation for Volunteering. Rob Horton, Responder Manager for SWASFT, said: “We are extremely grateful to the many responders who volunteer to help members of their local community in their time of need. These awards are a great way to showcase some of the outstanding work that our responders do on behalf of the Trust – their dedication, commitment and hard work deserves to be formally acknowledged and holding an awards ceremony is an ideal way to do that – their assistance is invaluable and on behalf of the Trust I would like to sincerely thank them for their support.”


The picture shows the requalifications that the all Community First Responders have to undertake every six months, taking place in the Whiteparish Memorial Hall in July 2016. Happy to report that all nine First Responders taking part passed!


All the attendees, plus the helicopter and crew

Closer view (left)

Closer view (middle)

Closer view (right)


Trainer and Whiteparish First Responder Elizabeth Philps giving her presentation

(Most of) the rest of the audience

On Tuesday 29th April, the Whiteparish First Responders were delighted to welcome 24 villagers to our Defibrillator Demonstration and Open Evening in the Memorial Centre’s Cowesfield Room.

The evening began with an explanation of what First Responders do, who we are, how much time we each try to give each week (twelve hours minimum), what checks we do before logging on for a period of being “on call”, and the kinds of 999 life-threatening emergencies we can be sent to within the 4-mile radius of our call-out zone. We have attended over 100 emergencies in each of the past three years.

All First Responders need to have their skills revalidated every 6 months, and to have their driving licences and car documentation checked too. We are asked to try and provide extra cover during Bank Holidays when the Ambulance crews are exceptionally busy.

The second half of our evening was given to Elizabeth, our professional St. John trainer and one of our village First Responders, who gave the audience valuable advice on what to do if someone collapses at home or out in the community.

After a short Q & A session, people were invited to try their hand at Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), or to try a trainer Automatic External Defibrillator, and attaching the pads to a ResusAnnie. People had opportunities to see the contents of one of our kit bags and the area we cover, and to ask questions.

The audience included representatives from some 14 village groups or organisations, who had been asked to bring their First Aid kits. We checked these for out-of-date items; which we could replace free, through a donation from a Community Fund. Seven organisations ordered refills or replacement items, and these have now been delivered.

The evening was well received, and we hope to make this an annual event, but if you would be interested in attending another evening in 6 months time instead, please get in touch with Jackie Hawker, on 01794 884127.


The First Responders invite everyone in the village, whatever your age, to come to a Defibrillator demonstration and training session on Tuesday 29th April at the Cowesfield Room, Memorial Centre at 7.30pm.

We would especially like to see each village club send a few of their own members along, to represent them on that evening.

You will all have the opportunity to have a practise on the trainer defibrillators, if you wish.

Free refreshments will be available and we very much look forward to welcoming you.


Whiteparish First Responders had a quieter period in July due to holidays but still attended a number of medical emergencies in the area. In fact in August so far (16th) they have attended 60% more emergencies than in the whole of August last year.

The new Public Access Defibrillator has only been available for a few weeks but has already been accessed on behalf of a potential patient. Thankfully it was precautionary only but it could well have been used in a life threatening situation. Please look out for the familiarisation sessions that will take place after the holiday season. Remember if you call an ambulance and either a First Responder arrives or the ambulance authority direct you to the Public Access defibrillator, on the wall of the Parish Lantern pub, AN AMBULANCE IS ALREADY EN ROUTE.


The left-hand photo above shows (centre) Dr Christopher Gotham of Whiteparish Surgery on 21st June 2012 outside the Parish Lantern, together with (from left) First Responder Arthur Philps, landlord Paul Cooper, and First Responder Elizabeth Philps for the official commissioning of the community public access defibrillator (cPAD) that is now installed there, facing the car park. We were delighted that quite a few interested villagers also attended. The right-hand photo shows Dr Gotham cutting the official commissioning chocolate cake (OCCC) with First Responder Jackie Hawker assisting (or more likely in line for the first slice).

The new cPAD means that even during the 30% of time when no First Responders are on call, the 999 operator can direct you to the defibrillator so that YOU can provide help in the event of a sudden cardiac emergency. Apart from the cPAD commissioning, which we hope will be very significant for the village, Whiteparish Community First Responders have been extremely busy recently attending a whole host of medical emergencies in and around the village. In the vast majority of cases they have arrived before the ambulance and been able to offer medical assistance and reassurance pending the arrival of the ambulance. Remember that if a First Responder comes to your aid an ambulance is en route.

Please watch this space or see the August issue of Steeple & Street for details of familiarization sessions that the CFRs will be running for the village. (We thought the pub would make a good venue!) In the meantime we'd like to thank the village community for their tremendous and continued support which enables the scheme to run as effectively as it does.


On 1st May, 2012, the Whiteparish First Responders were pleased to be one of a number of representative activities from the Southern Wiltshire Commmunity Area invited to take part in Wiltshire's Diamond Jubilee Celebration Event, held in Salisbury's Cathedral Close. This significant occasion was open to the public from 10 am to 5.30 pm, and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited in the middle of the day (1.30 to 2.30 pm), with the Duke of Edinburgh stopping off at the First Responders stand during their tour.

Unfortunately protocol prevented us taking any photos of the Duke as he visited us, but Berny Higgins and Martin Fisher did manage to take a few photos at other times, as shown below.

Our display

First Responders: (left to right) Elizabeth Philps, Berny Higgins, Martin Fisher, Stuart McWilliam, Neil Orr, and Jackie Hawker

The Queen passing some other exhibitors

. . . and some caged photographers!


Congratulations to Neil Orr and Berny Higgins who have finished their training and are now 'on the road', helping to provide emergency medical cover to Whiteparish and the surrounding area.

It's interesting and gratifying to see that over the past year volunteer Responders attended 101 incidents and, between them, gave 3982 hours of their time to the community.

The group's aim to install a community access defibrillator at a central point in the village is coming closer to reality. In addition to the generous donations received to date, Wiltshire Council has made funds available to help finance the project.

A community access defibrillator is designed to be used by ANYONE in the event of a cardiac emergency. Training is not necessary, though we will be holding familiarisation sessions for anyone who is interested.

We'll keep you informed. And thanks again for the donations.


Whiteparish Community First Responders attended the Helicopter support unit at Devizes on 25th January to see how that facility works in detail. Having been to three incidents in the locality where the helicopter was required to deal with the situation it was extremely useful to look around the facility. Whilst hoping that no-one locally needs the services of the helicopter it is nice to know it is available!


From Left: Julia Doel, Wendy, Paul Birkett-Wendes

Julia, Wendy, and Paul again; together with Neil Orr, Sheila Campbell, Arthur Philps, Elizabeth Philps, Kim Munro, and Martin Fisher of Whiteparish Community First Responders

Unfortunately, Wendy Hedley has been forced by ill health to retire from her position as coordinator of Whiteparish First Responders. On 12th October, Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust Locality Director, Paul Birkett-Wendes and Community Response Manager Julia Doel presented Wendy with a Commendation from the Service’s Chief Officer. All members of Whiteparish Responders were present at the ceremony, along with Wendy's daughter Lara and son-in-law Lee.

A paraphrased version of the citation reads as follows:

Chief Officer’s Commendation

Wendy Hedley has been the cornerstone of the Whiteparish Community First Responders during recent years, co-ordinating the team and working tirelessly to raise the profile of the scheme in the area through personal networking and by regular articles in the parish magazine. Wendy was behind an awareness evening held earlier in the year, regularly chased the group for information she could publicise and provided a valuable link between the group and Great Western Ambulance Service.

A member of the group said of Wendy, ‘She is incredibly modest and always proclaims to ‘do nothing’ and that it’s us who do ‘all of the work’, when actually she does all the things we don’t like doing allowing us to concentrate on our duties.’ Due to ill health, Wendy has reluctantly resigned from her role as co-ordinator and every member of the scheme will miss her.

For her commitment to patient care, the Chief Officer is pleased to present a Commendation.


The Whiteparish Community First Responder group is very grateful to everyone (individuals and organisations) that has made contributions to help us to continue to provide an emergency service to the village. As you are aware we aim to deliver a high level of cover (on a voluntary basis), but it is not always possible for us to be on call 24/7. With this in mind, we are currently exploring the possibility of using the funds that have been donated to install and maintain a community access defibrillator at a central point in the village.

These units are designed to be used by anyone in the event of a cardiac emergency. Training is not necessary, although we plan to hold familiarisation sessions for anyone who is interested. We will keep everyone informed. Thank you again for the donations.

After completing their training successfully, two more volunteers have recently qualified as CFRs. All being well they will start their duties in October.



The more tokens, the more money is raised.
Any funds that we raise now will be put towards the 24/7 defibrillator access scheme for Whiteparish. Please note that tokens from the Salisbury branch can be used in the Romsey branch bins.


The team were able to welcome a number of Whiteparish residents to our first open evening. An introduction was made which included demonstrations by various members of the team using the new defibrillator training equipment which had been donated by a Whiteparish resident. The Wiltshire Responder Co-ordinator attended the evening and was able to answer questions on the wider aspects of the county scheme.

The open evening was arranged so that residents could be made aware of the first responder’s role in the community, and also what each householder could do to help. One big problem the team have is finding the house they have been called out to, particularly at night.

Please ensure that house name and numbers are visible from the road, and that all foliage is cut back so it can be seen clearly. Precious minutes can be saved if the team and ambulance crews can find the house quickly, which may mean the difference between life and death.

The team will be at the village fete where we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.


April 2011 was another busy month for the team when 40% of hours were covered. There were no days when there was no cover at all.

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