People living and working in St Neots can give themselves a huge pat on the back this week after the town was named as the “defibrillator capital of the East of England” by the ambulance service.

The market town is leading the field when it comes to raising money for the potentially life-saving pieces of equipment and also for the number installed.

Since April 2014, seven community public access defibrillators (CPAD) have been placed at locations in and around the town and this week the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust handed over a new device for the Priory Centre.

St Town Council awarded the ambulance service a grant for £10,000 and £7,000 was secured through community fund-raising to pay for the machines.

St Neots Town Council town clerk Ed Reilly said: "The town council gave a grant of £10,000 last year after an application for grant aid from Jenny McClaggish at the ambulance service. She has been the driving force behind this and I hate to think how many hours she has devoted to it. These really do save lives and I am pleased to see them being installed throughout the country."

The other defibrillators are at Crosshall School, Giggs & Co in Great North Road, St Neots Ambulance Station, St Neots Rugby Club, Grafham Village Hall, Tesco and The Bell pub in Great Paxton. There are also plans to install two more at Queens Gardens, Eaton Socon, and Loves Farm and around 80 people have received training to use a defibrillator.

Paramedic Jenni McClagish said the project to install devices in the town had "snowballed" after a defibrillator was placed at Crosshall Primary School.

"I'm delighted with the amount of support there has been for this project. Effective CPR and early use of a defibrillator can make the difference between life or death, if someone is in cardiac arrest," she said.

The EEAST launched a Their Life, Your Hands campaign at the start of the year to encourage people to think about where their nearest community public access defibrillator is located - and also to help take the fear out having to use one should the situation arise.