Vandals have targeted lifesaving equipment on Walney, prompting a fierce backlash from community figures,

The defibrillator at The Castle House Hotel, Biggar Bank, was targeted by teenagers who ripped the seal off the box, which contains the equipment, and tampered with the defibrillator itself.

Phil Irvine, landlord of the Castle House Hotel, said: “It happened between 6pm and 8pm on Saturday. There was about eight early-teens, four lads and four girls hanging about outside, and I had seen that the defibrillator box was open, however it did not seem to be damaged, but a man from First Responders came on Sunday to sort it out and it is all sorted now.

“They were quite abusive to me when I went out to shoo them away, they used foul language. Hopefully they got disturbed when some of the smokers came outside.

“It’s important to have it on the beach front and we have a lot of people out on the beach in summer so it is vital asset just in case there is an emergency.

“It was used 18 months ago and it saved a man’s life, which shows how vital it is. They wouldn’t like it if someone died out there who was unable to use it because of them, which is potentially a life gone.

“We have had fundraisers for it in the past, and we brought it in a few years ago now, and we are happy to have it here.

“I think it would be worth asking parents in the area if any of their kids were in the area at the time and be told that they should not be playing with these pieces of equipment.

“I do not think they need punishment, but they do need education on why this is so important. I think if they were 15 or 16 they would have known what it was, but they were young teenagers, so I am hoping it is because they did not know what it was.”

Barrow and Walney First Responders posted on social media to highlight the importance of defibrillators to communities, and had the defibrillator fixed within 24 hours, to ensure the lifesaving is maintained.

County councillor for Walney South Frank Cassidy said: “I understand that some children were in the process of vandalising the defibrillator when they were disturbed by the landlord.

“If they had gone any further the equipment might have been put out of use and that could have been the difference between losing a life and saving one.

“It has happened at a time when the Biggar Bank community is trying to improve the area and the last thing we want to see is acts of stupidity like this.”