Dan Osborne – Jay’s AIM: Helping Young Hearts
When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, there is about a 75% chance of them surviving if they can receive CPR and defibrillator treatment within three-to-five minutes. For every minute thereafter that they don’t receive treatment, the chance of survival reduces by around 10%. Therefore, once someone has had a cardiac arrest, they have about ten minutes to receive life-saving treatment. Dan Osborne is the Chair of Trustees at local charity Jay’s AIM, named after his late brother Jay, who tragically died at the age of twenty-eight after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. The charity’s mission is to encourage young people to attend cardiac screenings, provide free quality CPR and defibrillator training, and to provide public access defibrillators to places/venues in need.
Born and brought up in Bude, Cornwall, Dan was one of five children and enjoyed a typical coastal Cornish upbringing, full of sun, sea and sand. Raised in a sporty family, Dan went on to achieve a Physical Education degree at Chichester University before moving back to the South West and becoming a P.E Teacher at Dawlish College. He has performed multiple P.E and pastoral roles at the college ever since and works there to this day.
He had also enjoyed fundraising for charities throughout his teens and twenties, riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2012 and running half-marathons for charity too. He also got married in August of 2014, moved to Newton Abbot and has gone on to become a father to his four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
His involvement professionally in charity work came about totally out of the blue when, on Father’s Day in June 2017, his brother Jay tragically died at the age of twenty-eight, after having a sudden cardiac arrest whilst out on a morning run. Dan explained,
“Jay was a physically fit man, who even more tragically had just become a father for the first time. He had previously had no symptoms or shown any signs of being unwell at all and, sadly, he was diagnosed after his death with a hereditary heart disease which had not been picked up at any point in his life.”
In the sorrowful aftermath of this tragic event, Dan spoke with other members of his family and decided that they wanted to honour Jay’s memory by starting a charity which both offered monitoring for heart diseases as well as educating people on the importance of heart health and how to perform life-saving CPR or use a defibrillator.
So, around Christmas 2017, Dan and some of the members of his family, registered Jay’s AIM with the Charity Commission, formed a board of trustees, set up the charity structure and came up with a logo. The charity was formally launched at the end of May 2018.
I asked Dan about the origin of the charity’s name and he told,
“The Jay part is obvious, but the AIM stands for Assess, Inform and Make a difference. By offering cardiac screenings (Assess), going into schools, colleges, universities and workplaces (Inform) and training more people in CPR, installing more public access defibrillators and training people how to use them (Making a difference), we believe that the charity can significantly improve the chances of people surviving cardiac arrests in the local area.”
“Our cause has been helped greatly by becoming one of the Exeter Chiefs Foundation charities and also being connected with the Exeter City Community Trust. The funding that has come through these channels has been of great value but also the connection to the two biggest sports clubs in the city has been a fantastic leverage point for us. It has given us credibility and opened up meaningful doors for us too.”
Dan also shared how thankful he was for the generosity of local businesses and organisations. He explained,
“We’ve had people produce free videos for us (which have received 60,000 hits online) and we’ve had loads of Jay’s colleagues, friends and family choosing to support the charity in a variety of ways. The challenge is to now maintain that level of support, funding and income by educating others and becoming more involved in the community.”
He went on,
“We’ve also had loads of people choosing Jay’s AIM as their charity of choice for marathon runs and corporate social responsibility, including Brewin Dolphin where Jay had worked before he passed away who have chosen us as their charity of the year in 2019.”
There is obviously something about the story of Jay’s AIM that captures people’s attention and speaks to them at a deep level. To have achieved what they have in such a short time is nothing short of impressive and profound, particularly given the tragic birth of the charity.
“It’s been a bittersweet journey really. Obviously, losing Jay was deeply sad for me and my family to go through. But what better way to remember him than to create a legacy in his name? It has been incredibly hard work running a charity alongside my day job and educating people on our mission and our story has been both a pleasure and a challenge. I’ve had to learn a lot very quickly too as running a charity is like nothing I’ve ever done before in my career.”
“On a personal note, our family have also made it our mission to build a legacy for Jay’s son to learn about as he grows up. He was only a matter of months old when Jay passed away so he probably won’t have any living memories of him, but we can certainly teach him and show him what an amazing man his father was through the work of the charity. Of course, losing Jay was extremely sad but we want that sadness to turn into something more positive and long-lasting.”
In their first fifteen months, they’ve trained over 2000 people in CPR and how to use a defibrillator. They’ve also supplied eighteen public access defibrillators (meaning that they are in a cabinet and available to all members of the public, 24/7).
If you ask me, Dan and the rest of the team at Jay’s AIM have made a fantastic and inspiring start to building that legacy in Jay’s name and I, for one, came away from our conversation feeling incredibly thankful and, in the very best way, humbled.
Show your support for Jay’s AIM at www.jaysaim.co.uk or by following them @Jays_AIM on Twitter.
Written by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photos by Nick Hook