Woman unveils lifesaving equipment at Tube station in memory of late husband

Pauline McKellar with the defibrillator presented to Dagenham Heathway station in the memory of her

Pauline McKellar with the defibrillator presented to Dagenham Heathway station in memory of her late husband Tam. - Credit: Ken Mears

A woman has unveiled lifesaving equipment at a Tube station in tribute to her husband who died suddenly of heart disease.

Pauline McKellar was joined by family and Transport for London (TfL) staff at a special ceremony at Dagenham Heathway on Friday, May 21.

Thanks to Pauline and TfL, a defibrillator in honour of her husband Thomas - known as Tam - is now fixed to a ticket hall wall ready in case someone suffers a cardiac arrest at the station.

Pauline McKellar outside of Dagenham Heathway station

Pauline outside Dagenham Heathway station. - Credit: Ken Mears

Pauline said: "I'm over the moon. This is a fitting tribute to Tam. If it saves one life, it will have done its job."

Tam, 62, had just pulled up in his car and switched off the engine at a job in South Shields when his heart stopped beating on November 25, 2019.

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The HGV driving trainer, who was originally from Scotland, would often instruct people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as part of his work. His main passion was maintaining drivers' safety.

It was his enthusiasm for passing on lifesaving skills which inspired Pauline to organise Dagenham Heathway's defibrillator, raising £1,600 to make it happen.

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"He would be proud," Pauline said. "I want to thank everybody who donated - friends, family, colleagues and drivers."

The plaque dedicated to the memory of Tam McKellar

The plaque dedicated to the memory of Tam McKellar which hangs above the lifesaving equipment. - Credit: Ken Mears

A plaque above the equipment bears Tam's name and the line "Don't go breaking my heart" from the Elton John song.

Pauline explained: "That's because it broke my heart, the way he went. [Tam] was my soul mate, my world. We did everything together. 

"Tam's passing has left a devastating void in all our lives. I hope the defibrillator will prevent other people going through the same."

Sue Lofthouse, TfL's head of customer service for the District Line, thanked Pauline for her "really kind donation".

"It will make a massive difference in terms of the ability to save people's lives. On behalf of TfL, we are really pleased Pauline has chosen to do this in memory of her husband," Sue said.

Barking MP, Dame Margaret Hodge also expressed her "deepest gratitude" towards Pauline and TfL in a message.

"The donation is a thoughtful gesture. This life-saving device will be a real asset for our community.

"The thoughts of the whole Barking and Dagenham community are with Pauline and her family at this time," Dame Margaret said.

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