A Banbury woman, whose 18-year-old daughter tragically died of a rare heart condition, overcame her own illness to raise funds for a new defibrillator.
Elaine Johnson climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge last year to raise money for the life-saving device in memory of Chlöe Bodfish.
The public assess defibrillator is installed outside the M&S at Banbury Gateway Retail Park and the store has pledged to match the donation and place a device in the town centre.
Elaine said: “I was overwhelmed with the support and donations I received for my bridge climb last year, and now the newly installed defibrillator proudly sits outside the Banbury M&S Store bearing Chlöe’s photo.
“Hopefully it might just save a life one day. I would personally like to thank the team at M&S and all those who donated towards this project and helped me achieve this goal.”
Talented dancer Chlöe died of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in 2004 after contracting pneumonia while studying at a prestigious London performing arts school.
Chlöe’s Starlight Fund was set up in her memory to support heart charities but Elaine has often been unable to fundraise due to her also having DCM, following chemotherapy for breast cancer, until the bridge climb.
M&S Banbury Gateway commercial operations section manager Wendy Hill added: “When we were approached by Elaine who told us her inspirational story we jumped at the chance to help.
“Being in such a busy location meant that putting the defibrillator outside the store would enable community access should an emergency take place.
“Our team have also become very involved in the case, and will all be taking part in comprehensive training, which will include demonstrations on how to use the defibrillator correctly, so they are prepared in an emergency.”
Chlöe began dancing at the age of three with the Joanne Mills School Of Dance.
At 16, she realised her dream by passing her audition to study musical theatre at the prestigious Italia Conti Arts Centre in London.
It was while studying there that she became ill, initially contracting pneumonia which in turn led to her developing DCM – tragically, she died less than a year later.
Soon after losing Chlöe, Elaine too was diagnosed with DCM following chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
Back in 2004, Elaine’s son Tom Bodfish, along with close friends and family, set up Chlöe’s Starlight Fund with the aim of raising funds for local heart charities.
Elaine had always wanted to do something personally to support this fund, but her condition had often prevented her from participating in fundraising events.
An opportunity presented itself last year when Elaine and her husband booked a holiday to Australia.
She decided to attempt a sponsored bridge climb of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the hope of raising enough money to purchase a public access defibrillator in Chlöe’s memory.
Friends and the local community came out in force and Elaine was amazed with the support and donations she received.
Her family said: “Chlöe loved life. Especially singing, dancing and performing. One of her favourite musicals was Fame and to quote a line from the show, we will always ‘remember her name’.”