iStay and Body and Mind First Aid Training join forces to provide four defibrillators in the city centre

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In a week when everything feels like it is a story of two halves, I felt a little bit honoured that two people I look up to, respect, and am proud to call friends, have stories that felt completely intertwined.

Feature by Nancy Buckland Kirk

Ann Chambers is the Managing Director of iStay Liverpool, the premium party pads group based in the city centre. Ann was recently awarded Newcomer of the Year 2022 at The Downtown in Business Women in Business Awards 2022, and is launching a new initiative as part of a roll out programme led by her to assist the city centre as a community. Her plan? In conjunction with nearby organisation, Body and Mind First Aid Training, based in James Street, iStay will be providing four defibrillators across key iStay sites, going over and above what is required by law not just to provide a safety net for their own guests but for anyone who is close to each of the designated iStay key locations across the city centre.

Ann is providing this service with the support of Body and Mind First Aid Training. The defibrillators, or Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), are life-saving equipment for emergency use in treating life support and resuscitation, by way of reviving someone who is suffering from cardiac arrest. This groundbreaking business, founded by John Barry and Danny Leicester, offers a wide range of life-saving and first aid training courses, alongside equipment, delivered by a valued team of practitioners – between them, John, Danny and their colleagues have over 40 years experience of British Army operational tours. Their award-winning and verified training providers are experienced first aid responders and hold prehospital qualifications.

The first person I called when I heard the news was my good friend, Alex. I first met Alex 26 years ago, when we sat next to each other as new recruits in a busy Staff Room on our first day as freshly-minted teachers. We are still firm friends, and bonded over our devotion to our dads, Tommy and Gordon. Sadly, my dad passed away in 2018, but Gordon Laing is still very much with us.


Born in 1924, Gordon qualified as a doctor only days before the introduction of the NHS in July 1948, and went on to launch, and be involved in, innovations which are still widely used and recognised across the NHS in 2022. Born and raised in Manchester, into a family where medicine was very much a preferred profession, Gordon worked as medic in the RAF, and after some time spent in Libya was hugely inspired to join the field of emergency medicine. One of the UK’s first emergency consultants, Gordon took up his first A&E post in Salford in 1972.

From simple innovations such the introduction of red A&E signs, to the introduction of nursing triages, to major schemes, such as the launch of major trauma centres, roof helipads and the role of paramedics, Gordon had a magic hand in it all.

Dr. Laing also brought the very first defibrillator to the North West in 1967, inspired by his mentor Sir Harry Platt, who was instrumental in making treatment of heart care emergencies central to the role of A&E departments.

In Gordon’s own words, ‘I am still so proud of my roots in the NHS, in heart care and trauma response medicine. Back in the day, the defibrillator was a heavy machine, and took two people to push it, and so I am delighted that modern machinery is so much lighter and more accessible. I may have retired in 1989, but I spent my professional life devoted to my work in the NHS, and am passionate that it is maintained, preserved and invested into, and still take a keen interest in all medical news and developments. I am really pleased to know that organisations like Body and Mind First Aid Training are so active in their roles, as it is vital that all of us should have some skills in this area, and well done to Ann and all of her team for investing in these four defibrillators. I think it is wonderful to see organisations purchasing both equipment and training which really can help to save lives.’

Ann Chambers founder and Managing Director of iStay Liverpool comments: ‘On meeting John from Body and Mind, I realised straight way the value of the work him and his team are doing, and that as a business owner I could assist them in their quest to provide defibrillators at accessible points, in our case, around Liverpool city centre.

‘John and his team provide a wide variety of training schemes which impressed me so much, including mental health first aid training. I decided in the case of iStay to provide practical and life saving defibrillator equipment as these are much-needed close to public spaces.

‘I look forward to working further with John and his team to widen the scope of knowledge about first aid training for everyone at iStay Liverpool. As the business is growing at such a fast rate, it is vital that we further build on our levels of social responsibility at every level.’

All I hope to do now is introduce Ann to Gordon. Now whether Gordon fancies a night of partying in Liverpool, or Ann could be persuaded for a cream tea afternoon at Bents Garden Centre in Glazebury, Warrington, I think these two would have a great conversation about life, health, and being of service.

I’m definitely going for the scone option. According to my hero, Gordon, they are simply the stuff of life.

‘Accident and Emergency Medicine’ by Gordon S. Laing is still in print and widely used by medical students across the NHS in their training. Gordon now resides in Culcheth.

Nancy Buckland Kirk

About the author: Nancy Buckland Kirk is a writer with a keen interest in mental health, fashion and beauty and a career which has spanned modelling, teaching and spreading the word about leading beauty brands.

From the archives: Nancy Buckland Kirk on why she chose today to write candidly about mental health for the first time

On World Mental Health Day, Nancy Buckland Kirk talks about grief

Tackling the mixed messages around mental health

For more information about iStay Liverpool visit their website and socials at:

For more information about Body and Mind First Aid Training reference their website and socials at:


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