No calls from this phone box in West Row, but it could save a life

The official unveiling of the new phone box in West Row which houses the new defibrillator. Michael

The official unveiling of the new phone box in West Row which houses the new defibrillator. Michael Peachey (chairman of West Row Village Hall Foundation) cuts the ribbon. Picture: Phil Morley - Credit: Archant

The village of West Row has turned a piece of phone box heritage into a life-saving community amenity.

The official unveiling of the new phone box in West Row which houses the new defibrillator. Michael

The official unveiling of the new phone box in West Row which houses the new defibrillator. Michael Peachey (chairman of West Row Village Hall Foundation) cuts the ribbon. Picture: Phil Morley - Credit: Archant

While many communities are losing their red phone boxes, West Row has got one back - albeit for a completely different purpose.

You won’t be able to make a call from this traditional phone box, located in the playing fields car park, but you could save someone’s life.

This defunct BT box, which was purchased and transported all the way from Exeter, houses a defibrillator - a piece of equipment that could prove vital for someone who is suffering a heart attack.

The community project - which was celebrated with an official unveiling on February 4 - came about following West Row’s success in a Best Village competition, with a vote deciding the combined winning prize money would go towards it.

Paul Hamill hard at work renovating the phone box

Paul Hamill hard at work renovating the phone box - Credit: Contributed


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West Row councillor Roz Hamill said: “Phone boxes are part of my history and our heritage. I have always had an affinity with phone boxes.”

She added: “We wanted to make something available for the village and, rather than having a bench, which is always nice, we came up with the idea of a defibrillator. And then we said ‘where could we put it?’ and I suggested the idea of a phone box.”

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The dilapidated K6 model was bought for £1,000 from Northlew Parish Council and Michael Peachey, chairman of West Row Parish Council, travelled there and back in a day to collect it.

For Mrs Hamill’s husband Paul renovating the phone box over three months in the hot summer of 2015 was a labour of love.

Transporting the phone box

Transporting the phone box - Credit: Contributed

He worked on it in his garden, stripping it back to its original metal frame, and master welder Fred Schultheis produced two pieces of metalwork - for the back panel plus to cover the internal electric boxes.

It was fitted with new glass and for the final stage two coats of the very special ‘phone box red’ were applied.

Mr Hamill said it was “quite hard work” but “I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do”.

Mr Peachey once again used his teleporter, this time to ferry the phone box to its final destination in the village where it was hooked up to electricity ready for the defibrillator, which is registered with the ambulance service.

People can call 999 to obtain the code to operate the defibrillator and the details of two village members who have the code will be in the box.

For defibrillator training call Mrs Hamill on 01638 715329.

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