More than 1,500 schoolchildren are learning vital lifesaving skills – thanks to one of Hampshire’s biggest employers.

A £20,000 donation from ExxonMobil, which runs the 3,250-acre Fawley refinery, is enabling New Forest First Aid Training to stage 41 first aid sessions.

The course is available to students in Years 4, 5, and 6 at eight schools across the New Forest, plus one in Hamble.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said: "As pupils continue to embark on their journey to become 'Mini Medics', they will be introduced to first aid, how to use a defibrillator, and the correct way to perform CPR.

There will also be guidance on what procedures to take when faced with someone who is choking or having an asthma attack, as well as how to treat wounds or bleeding. 

"Recent findings from the British Heart Foundation highlight the critical need for such training. They reveal that the survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK is notably low, around ten per cent.

"This figure is significantly lower compared to other European countries, where the survival rate can be as high as 40 per cent."

New Forest first aid provider Sarah Prestridge added: "One of the reasons for this is arguably a lack of first aid training from an early age.

"For a long time we have been eager to incorporate medical training within schools. However, with first aid not included in the National Curriculum, many schools find it challenging to secure the necessary funding due to budget constraints.

"Thanks to ExxonMobil Fawley, we are already making significant strides in delivering lifesaving training to thousands of students across Hampshire, who will no doubt share their newfound knowledge with their families.

“We are immensely grateful for their support and hope this initiative will continue to grow, allowing us to equip even more young people with the skills they need to save lives and assist in emergencies.”

One of the schools taking part in the initiative is Hythe Primary School.

Business manager Kim Smith said: “This important initiative will give our students potential lifesaving skills, and we are sure they will have a lot of fun along the way.

“We are grateful for ExxonMobil Fawley’s generous contribution to make this happen.”