£17,000 donation for new hyperbaric facility fund

Employees of Old Mutual International have raised more than £8,500 towards the Friends of the Hyperbaric Chamber Isle of Man’s new facility fund.

Staff from the Onchan-based company raised £8,512.17 for the facility during 2015 and this has been doubled by Old Mutual Group’s match funding initiative, bringing the company’s total donation to more than £17,000.

Old Mutual International Communications Manager, Wendy Ranft-Gerber said:“It’s fantastic that our staff have raised the funds that will directly impact on the charity and indeed on those who will benefit from the new facility.  The funds we raised could not have been done without the efforts and support of all the staff at Old Mutual International.”

She added: “Everyone on the island can benefit from the Hyperbaric Chamber and it touches so many lives. We’re delighted to be able to play our part and help make a difference to the future of our island’s health.”

The Hyperbaric Medicine Facility on Peel Road, Douglas, has been serving the Isle of Man for more than 30 years, offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to enhance healing for a range of injuries, disorders and conditions, as well as providing emergency recompression for divers.

While hyperbaric treatment is usually only available privately in the British Isles, it is free to Isle of Man residents at the local facility. It currently has two functioning chambers serving around 90 appointments a day, but with referrals from GPs and consultants increasing, waiting lists for certain conditions are growing.

The Friends of the Hyperbaric Chamber Isle of Man charity hopes to raise £674,000 towards investing in an additional chamber and relocating to a bigger, better unit which could accommodate up to 250 patients per day.

Hyperbaric Chamber operator and fundraiser, Debs Barron, said: “We are improving people’s lives, helping patients to get better faster, but at the moment we can’t offer treatment for certain conditions because we don’t have the capacity.

“Everybody deserves to get better. We need to get people in as soon as the injury occurs, but if we’re busy we can’t offer the space.”

Old Mutual International’s donation has enabled the organisation to pay the second half of the deposit for the new 25-manchamber, on top of £15,000 already raised by the Isle of Man public. This has now been secured and the manufacturers are currently making alterations to accommodate wheelchair users.

£2,000 from Old Mutual International’s donation will go towards paying for a new compressor and other equipment required.

Once all the required funds for the new facility are raised, the project would take five months to complete from sod-cutting to opening the doors to patients. One of the existing chambers will also be relocated to the new unit once it is operational.

Every year, Old Mutual International gives employees the opportunity to put forward a local charity that they wish to support. Over the last twelve months, staff have been involved in various fundraising initiatives for the fund including cake bakes, dress down Fridays and a casino evening, along with the company’s annual ‘Oscars’ raffle.

One employee who has personally benefitted from hyperbaric therapy is receptionist Val Crowe. She received treatment at the Hyperbaric Chamber following an operation on her shoulder in May 2014 and has since supported many of the fundraising efforts.

She said: “If it hadn’t been for the facility, I wouldn’t have been able to return to work so quickly. I feel I owe a lot to the Hyperbaric Chamber.”