VISITORS to a busy Ipswich shopping centre are being offered a free blood pressure check which could potentially save their lives.
The Rotary Club of Ipswich have teamed up with the Stroke Association to promote their Know Your Blood Pressure campaign at Sailmakers Shopping Centre on Saturday, April 6.
There are more than 150,000 strokes every year in the UK and high blood pressure is the biggest risk factor, contributing to more than half of all strokes.
Robin Watson, who is part of the Rotary Club of Ipswich’s community service committee and has been organising the free checks for the past three years, knows from personal experience how quickly a stroke can come on and is urging people to get themselves checked out.
He said: “A close friend of mine had a stroke when I was with him. It was a Rotary golf day that he had been organising.
“We were chatting having lunch when suddenly it happened. Luckily my wife recognised the signs straight away and was up at the bar ringing for an ambulance.
“That quick response is vital. The ambulance arrived within five minutes and he went on to make a full recovery.”
Robin and his fellow members will be providing help and information while qualified nurses carry out free blood pressure checks from 10.30am until 2.30pm on April 6, with a team from the Rotary Club of Ipswich Wolsey then taking over until 4.30pm.
He said: “The Rotary is one of the biggest charity organisations in the world. They do some amazing things.
“The Rotary has the will and the people to do events like this. When we set up we’ll have four or five Rotarians on for every shift and we’ll be encouraging people to get checked.
“During each of the last two years we’ve had 200 people coming over to have their blood pressure taken.
“These days people often can’t tell if they have high blood pressure and it’s quite surprising the number that you get and particularly younger people too.
“Most cases people are OK. It would be very unusual to have to send someone to hospital, although has happened before.
“Usually people are told to see their doctor. It’s a very good initiative that can help save lives.
“Sailmakers have been so good to us. They have given us so much help and nothing is too much trouble.”
The Rotary Club of Ipswich President Prema Fairburn-Dorai regularly plays a big part in supporting the event.
Robin explained: “Our president is a qualified nurse who owns two residential homes for older people.
“She employs a number of nurses and brings them along to do the checks. Last year we were short of nurses so she stepped in herself!”
Mike Sorhaindo, Sailmakers Shopping Centre manager, said: “We’re delighted to play our part in helping the Rotary and Stroke Association provide such an important service which can help save lives.
“I’d urge visitors to the shopping centre, whatever age you are, to take up the opportunity of a free blood pressure check even if it’s just to put your mind at rest.
“Understanding the link between high blood pressure and stroke, as well as other risk factors and how you can reduce them could prove to be the difference between life and death.”
• Pictured are Rotarian Robin Watson and Clare Peck, of Sailmakers Shopping Centre.