Thanks to donations from communities, clubs, family, friends, and fundraisers, the Sam Polledri Foundation has raised a staggering £66,700 for public access defibrillators in and around Bristol.
On 26th February 2022 on a night out with friends, Sam Polledri, a fit and healthy 24-year-old man, suffered a cardiac arrest in one of Bristol’s most popular tourist areas, Millennium Square. There were no publicly accessible defibrillators nearby. The Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) attended Sam that night and did everything they could, but Sam didn’t survive.
Amidst the devastation of losing Sam in this tragic way, Sam’s family, girlfriend Lisa Mazzotta, and family friends chose to do something incredible for the city and beyond as a tribute to him.
Partnering with GWAAC, they set up the Sam Polledri Foundation, raising funds to install public access defibrillators, teaching people to use them along with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and raising awareness of these vital pieces of equipment. Their actions are already saving lives.
Why public access defibrillators are so vital
When a cardiac arrest occurs, it is those precious minutes before an ambulance arrives that make the most difference to a person’s chance of survival. Bystander CPR and defibrillation can increase the chances of surviving from less than one in ten to more than seven in ten.
To avoid needless deaths, GWAAC’s goal is that anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest will receive immediate CPR and then defibrillation within five minutes. Each one-minute delay decreases their survival chances by another ten percent, so defibrillators need to be close by, publicly available, and used!
This is what Sam’s family, girlfriend, and friends have set out to achieve. The first of their defibrillators was installed in Bristol city centre at Millennium Square, close to where Sam passed away.
Eleven defibs so far and making a difference
Eleven defibrillators have been installed and a further five are in progress.
Two of the defibrillators have already been used on people in cardiac arrest. One in central Bristol, which saved a life, and then two days after it was made rescue-ready the defibrillator at the Clifton Observatory was also used. Lisa said, “It’s an absolutely incredible feeling to know Sam has given someone a chance and how important what we’re doing in his name truly is.”
Incredible fundraising efforts
The Sam Polledri Foundation continues to share Sam’s memory and create a lifesaving legacy. Within the space of just over a year, fundraising by the Polledris has included a dinner, a golf day by Guiseppe Licata, a bike ride, and auctions to name just a few. Lisa’s dad Emilio cycled with his friend Guilio from Lands’ End to John ‘o’ Groats, and mum Louise is using her networks with the local business community, such as with Hargreaves Lansdown, to place defibs at central locations. This means that along with the Millennium Square and Brunel’s SS Great Britain defibrillators, the new installation at Baltic Wharf makes the harbourside area better prepared to save a life in Sam’s memory.
Bristol’s Rugby Community has gone above and beyond
So much support has come through from the rugby community – made possible through the family’s rugby links.
Sam’s dad Pete played for many years with Bristol, and Sam’s brother Jake played for Gloucester and is an Italian international. Sam was also a player of some note himself, playing for Clifton RFC, St Marys, Filton College, Cleeve RFC, and Dings Crusaders in Bristol. There has been huge support from local rugby clubs with Avonmouth Old Boys RFC, Clifton RFC, Richmond Heavies, and Cotham Park RFC raising money and installing defibrillators. One has also been installed at the popular sporting fields at Bristol Downs through a connection with Try Tag Rugby.
Former England and Gloucester Rugby player Ben Morgan has also been fundraising as part of his testimonial year. This has included the Three Peaks Challenge and a rugby sevens competition. He has reached further into the rugby network and beyond with his fundraising work and television appearances, raising a brilliant £7,475 to date.
Sam’s mum Louise said, “I so wish there had been a public access defibrillator available for my beautiful boy but knowing we have made a difference because of Sam’s passing, and that other families may have been saved from our living nightmare, is huge. This is massive, this makes all we have done worthwhile. I know Sam would want us to do this in his memory.”
How you can help
If you would like to donate to the Sam Polledri Foundation – please visit here.