A TOP rugby scrum-half is throwing his weight behind a campaign to increase the numbers of automatic "heart starters" in public places.

Former Stonyhurst pupil Kyran Bracken, 28, was hoping to keep hearts beating by backing the St John's Ambulance "Power to Save Lives" campaign on Valentine's Day.

The group wants to see more automatic defibrillators available, especially in workplaces.

The lifesaving machines deliver controlled electric shocks to heart attack victims.

Kyran said: "We all need to be aware of the importance of having this lifesaving equipment wherever there are groups of people, whether it is at stations, leisure clubs, football stadiums or rugby grounds.

""Almost anyone can be trained to use them so it doesn't matter where you work, or who you work for -- having a defibrillator near to hand can mean the difference between life and death."

Stonyhurst teacher Larry Crouch said Kyran had been involved in charity work at the school, and had helped organise a fundraising dinner for children with special needs.

He said: "He was a brilliant rugby player. We are very proud of him."

Local branches of the Red Cross are training people to use them and raising cash to install them in public places.

Former Stonyhurst pupils Ian Belshaw and Will Greenwood are also part of the England rugby squad.