Skip to main content

UK's 3,000th adopted red phone box given a new life-saving future

Press Release   •   May 09, 2016 11:49 BST

A red phone box in a picturesque Cumbrian village is set to become a life-saver after marking a major milestone in BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme.

BT marks milestone by donating defibrillator equipment for Cumbrian box and installing a new emergency services landline

A red phone box in a picturesque Cumbrian village is set to become a life-saver after marking a major milestone in BT’s Adopt a Kiosk programme.

The 3,000th box to be adopted in the UK - in Loweswater, Cumbria – has just been fitted with defibrillator equipment, which can help save the lives of heart attack victims.

The equipment has been paid for by BT and installed by the Community Heartbeat Trust, a charity that makes possible the provision of defibrillators for local communities.

Available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the defibrillator is secured in the phone box in a high visibility yellow, vandal-resistant, heated steel cabinet. It can be opened with a combination code available from the emergency services by calling 999.

As there is no mobile phone signal at the kiosk, BT has also sponsored a landline for

emergency calls.

The defibrillator machine provides spoken step-by-step instructions, analysing the victim to determine if they are suffering from a cardiac arrest and delivering a powerful, but controlled electric shock to restore normal heartbeat if required.

The phone box was bought by Community Heartbeat Trust for £1 as part of BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme because it was no longer needed as a working payphone.

As well as being repainted to bring the vibrant red icon back to life, a local resident has designed and installed a new floor in the box. Roger Hiley drew his inspiration from the surrounding landscape. He said: “The mural stone draws on the green of the Lakeland fells, the creamy whites of the Swaledale ewes and the ruddled red of the classic Herdwicks at show time.” “The floor design also ties in with the Red Cross emblem to link to the neutrality and service commitment of those who give their time and efforts in the cause of the common good,” explained Roger.

Lauren Watson, North West Ambulance’s Chain of Life co-ordinator for Cumbria, said: “This is a wonderful location for a public access defibrillator. This defibrillator will be passed by lots of walkers everyday as well as serving the local village. A brilliant project and one the ambulance service is very happy to have supported.”

Martin Fagan, national secretary for the Community Heartbeat Trust charity, which undertook the project, said: “The use of redundant phone boxes is both a life saver for the community and these iconic structures.

“The renovation of the box, which includes a commissioned floor reflecting the character of the Lake District, the placement of a life-saving defibrillator and the installation uniquely of a 999 emergency telephone, reflects a super use of this installation and we are immensely grateful to BT for their very generous support for this.”

Up to 100,000 people a year in the UK suffer from an ‘out of hospital’ sudden cardiac arrest making it one of the UK’s largest killers. The faster a victim gets medical help, the better the chances of survival. The availability of a defibrillator machine greatly increases the chances of surviving an attack. With CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) alone, the survival rate is around five per cent, but defibrillation and CPR increases the chance to more than 50 per cent.

BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme has captured the imagination of people up and down the country since it was introduced in 2008. Apart from the defibrillator kiosks, boxes have been turned into art galleries, a pub, a colour therapy room, mini libraries, exhibitions and information centres. Even the villagers of Ambridge in BBC Radio 4’s long-running drama The Archers have adopted their kiosk.

Mark Johnson, programme manager at BT Payphones, said: “We couldn’t let this 3,000th adoption pass without recognising such an achievement and it’s so gratifying to see this village phone box being given a new lease of life and being put to such good use once again.

“The most fantastic thing about the Adopt a Kiosk scheme has been how communities across the country have become involved. Red phone boxes have become a focal point for all sorts of activities of real value to the local community.

“Over the years, many people have said that their local phone box was a lifeline for them. Now that almost everyone has a phone at home or a mobile, that’s no longer true, but boxes fitted with defibrillator machines are a genuine asset to their community and could be real life savers in the future. I hope that many more communities choose to fit them.”

There are currently 600 phone boxes in Cumbria. Of these, 76 are red boxes of which 21 are listed buildings. There are 133 adopted boxes in Cumbria, 84 of which have been adopted so far by Community Heartbeat Trust and are scheduled to contain defibrillators.


Notes to editors

Payphone facts and figures

Architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott designed the first incarnation of the world famous red phone box for a competition in 1924. This design, the K2, was introduced in 1926, predominately in London. In 1936, Scott refined his design for the famous K6 introduced nationwide to celebrate George V's Silver Jubilee. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott also designed Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, and Battersea and Bankside (now Tate Modern) Power Stations in London.

The K2 phone box is 9'3" tall (2.7 metres) and weighs in at one and a quarter tons (1,270 kilograms). New they cost £35.14s.0d each.

The K6 phone box is 8’3” (2.4 metres) and weighs in at three quarters of a ton (762 kilograms).

BT has teamed up with payphone specialist X2 Connect to sell K6 or red phone boxes. More info can be found at http://www.x2connect.com/RedPhonebox/Telephone-Box-Pricing

At their peak in 2002, there were 92,000 payphones across the UK, now there are 46,000 public payphones (including 8,500 red boxes) on the street and 8,000 payphones on private sites like railway stations, airports and shopping centres.

Around 49,000 calls are made each day from public payphones with a third making less than one call a month.More than half of payphones lost money and call volumes are declining more than 20 per cent year on year.

The reason for the decline in usage is that 93 per cent of adults now own a mobile phone – http://media.ofcom.org.uk/facts/

Successful new ideas, which have helped phone boxes pay their way, include advertising on 20,000 modern kiosks and combining Wi-Fi and cash machine services with both modern and traditional red phone boxes.

About the Community Heartbeat Trust

Community Public Access Defibrillation (cPAD)

CHT is a registered charity that supports the cost effective installation of life saving defibrillation equipment into local communities.

CHT is working with key stakeholders and ambulance services across the UK to establish community defibrillators. It works with members of the public, local councils and relevant charities to provide equipment that is robust, vandal-resistant, safe and manufactured to the appropriate standards. It can also arrange training to a national standard through recognised training organisations. CHT relies on public donations for funding.

For more information visit www.communityheartbeat.org.uk

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.With effect from 1 April 2016, the group has been reorganised and the customer-facing lines of business are now: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com