Life saving defibrillator unveiled at Clitheroe's The Grand in memory of family man Josh

A life saving defibrillator has been donated to Clitheroe's The Grand in memory of a former Ribble Valley father-of-three who died from a massive heart attack.

From left to right, Josh's friends Steven Johnson and Nick Wilson, with Josh's family - daughter Amelie, son Benjy, mum Susan, widow Chloe holding daughter Naomi, and Josh's friends, Matt Evans, programme manager at The Grand, and Daniel Burke.
From left to right, Josh's friends Steven Johnson and Nick Wilson, with Josh's family - daughter Amelie, son Benjy, mum Susan, widow Chloe holding daughter Naomi, and Josh's friends, Matt Evans, programme manager at The Grand, and Daniel Burke.

Family and friends of Josh Metcalf, who lived in Sawley and attended Clitheroe's Edisford Primary School and Ribblesdale High School, made donations in his memory to the charity North East Hearts with Goals raising enough funds for two defibrillators.

Former Ribblesdale pupil Carl Gale, who had known Josh since the age of 11, set up a fundraising page entitled "Friends of the lovely boy" shortly after Josh's death with just short of £1,600 subsequently made in donations.

A small group of Josh's friends, led by local craftsman Daniel Burke, of Lightworks Stained Glass, then approached the management team at The Grand as they had heard the venue was in need of a defibrillator.

Josh Metcalf.

"Josh loved his music so it seemed fitting," explained Carl. "Also The Grand serves so many people across the community; from newborns to the elderly."

Describing Josh as "a true friend to everyone" and someone who was "honest and loyal", "kind and generous" as well as "talented and full of life", Carl said it was fitting that the defib had been presented to The Grand at the weekend as Irish born Josh had suffered his first heart attack on St Patrick's Day.

"It is a fitting tribute to place the defib at such a relevant venue, by friends who love him. He will continue to bring happiness and life to people for many years to come," added Carl.

A small ceremony to unveil the defib and a memorial plaque dedicated to Josh, which are both located in the reception area of The Grand, took place on Saturday with his mum Susan, widow Chloe and their three children, Benjy (11), Amelie (10) and Naomi (five), as well as friends attending.

The plaque in Josh's memory.

A quote from Bob Marley, who in the words of Carl summed up Josh's vibe and who he loved, is included on the memorial plaque next to the defibrillator. It reads: "My richness is life; forever."Matt Evans, The Grand's programme manager, has thanked Josh's family and friends for their donation.

"We are extremely appreciative of this thoughtful gesture from the family and friends of Josh at a time of great sadness," said Matt."Having a defib on our premises provides a source of comfort for our staff, audience members and potentially members of the Clitheroe public."

Josh died of a massive heart attack aged just 44 on January 21st. Living on the island of Borneo with his family, Josh was on his way back from his favourite jungle walk.

Son of Susan and the late Peter, and brother to Jonathan and Hannah, Josh was born in Dublin in 1974, but the family moved back to England when Josh was nine settling in the Ribble Valley.

Josh's family - from left to right, mum Susan, widow Chloe holding daughter Naomi, daughter Amelie holding the new defibrillator for Clitheroe's The Grand, and son Benjy.

Football played a huge part in Josh’s early life with his talents recognised when he was scouted for Blackburn Rovers Schoolboys which led to him doing an apprenticeship and playing professionally for the club.

Being selected for trials for the England Youth Squad and meeting Bobby Charlton was one of Josh’s proudest moments together with winning Team Player of the Year.

After playing professionally, Josh went on to study at Accrington College before taking a degree in Community and Youth Studies combined with Sport Science at St Martin's College in Lancaster.

He then completed a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in Eastbourne and spent time working in Greece before returning to Manchester where he lived with his brother and sister.

It was during this time that Josh met his wife Chloe and in July 2001 and they set up home together in Chorlton.

Josh subsequently secured a job at the Home Office Immigration Service and, in August 2005, Josh and Chloe took their wedding vows on the beach in Koh Samui, Thailand.

The couple went on to have their three children and have spent the past couple of years living and teaching in Brunei.

Nicknamed "Soul Glow" by his jungle running mates, Josh touched many people's lives.

"He was one of life's lovely guys - friendly and someone who had time for everyone," said Josh's friend Nick Wilson, of Clitheroe. "When he walked into a room he always had a smile on his face and would come to talk to you.

"He was just an all round beautiful person with not a bad bone in his body."

Determined to protect others from suffering the same devastating loss, Josh's widow Chloe and her brother Jonathan are raising money for the British Heart Foundation to buy a third defibrillator in Josh's memory.

"It is something Josh was passionate about," said Chloe. "We know more than most that this disease can hit anyone at any moment and this is the best way of protecting others from the suffering we are facing."

She added: "In earlier years, Josh played football as a youth and professionally for Blackburn Rovers and continued a healthy lifestyle, embracing all life had to offer.

"At 36, he inexplicably had a minor heart attack while playing five-a-side football despite there being no family history. He was put on preventative medication and monitored regularly.

"Josh was careful to follow a healthy diet with no smoking, alcohol, caffeine, high fat or meat. He was exercising four to five times a week. On visiting his cardiologist in December he was found to be in good health with no concerns.

"Four days before he died he was advised that his latest blood and liver tests were all fine. He then died of a massive heart attack. It is therefore clear to us that, despite everyone's best efforts, there is still much to learn about heart conditions and how to prevent these tragedies."

Chloe and her brother are taking part in the Great North Run, a half marathon in September, to raise funds for this third defibrillator in Josh's memory. They are not sure yet where this defibrillator will be placed but it will be somewhere with high need.

Contributions, however small, would be appreciated and can be made via:

Christine Stephenson, co-founder of North East Hearts with Goals, stressed the importance of defibrillators.

"A defibrillator, on site, can dramatically improve chances of survival from a cardiac arrest. Every minute that passes chance of survival is reduced by 10%.

"Defibrillators are small, easy to use machines, which will deliver a shock to the heart to help it return to a normal rhythm. You cannot hurt someone with a defibrillator and you cannot make the situation worse. You do not have to be legally trained to use a defibrillator as the machine will talk you through, very clearly, every step of the way. CPR is equally as important."