Cardiac arrest survivors know the true benefits of CPR. Read some inspirational stories of our CPR heroes and the lives they have saved.

Keith Townson, Burton Leonard, near Ripon

Keith was 65 when he had a cardiac arrest on Christmas Eve 2021

What happened?

Community First Responder Keith had a cardiac arrest at home while having a cuppa with his wife Carol; they had asked their postman Paul Convey to come to the door to collect his Christmas present, which proved to be a life-saver. Carol phoned 999 and started CPR while Paul rushed to alert nearby CFR Coordinator Derek Clarke. A second CFR, Jonathan Baker, also arrived to help and between them they continued with CPR and used a defibrillator to save his life.

“During the 20 minute-long resuscitation attempt, I was shocked with a defibrillator six times. Because nobody gave up on chest compressions, the paramedics got a pulse and took me to Leeds General Infirmary for heart surgery. I was so lucky and can’t thank Carol, Derek, Jonathan and Paul enough for keeping me alive so the ambulance crew could continue with the life-saving attempt.”

Derek Hemmingfield, Sheffield

Derek was 75 when he had his cardiac arrest in 2022

What happened?

Derek was playing tennis with friend, consultant Andrew Farkas, at St Andrew’s Tennis Club in Sheffield, when he collapsed. Andrew immediately recognised Derek was in cardiac arrest and started CPR with the help of parish nurse Marjorie Skidmore. The club defibrillator, which was installed just four months earlier, was also retrieved but not needed. They managed to get him breathing again by the time the ambulance arrived.

Derek said: “I believe in miracles and there were miracles in play that day. The fact that I was at the tennis club with people who knew what to do and I was well looked after by ambulance and hospital staff meant that I was given a second chance and I am incredibly grateful."

Stewart McGough, Doncaster

Stewart was 57 when he had a cardiac arrest in January 2022

What happened?

Stewart didn’t feel great after completing the 5km Doncaster parkrun and ‘keeled over’ while speaking to a friend just before he was due to head home. Former intensive care nurse at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Nickie Wilkinson, was nearby after also completing the parkrun, and quickly realised he was in cardiac arrest, so she started CPR while another witness went for the public access defibrillator at Sandall Park.

“I have had CPR training as part of basic first aid courses through work but I have never seen it done on anyone for real. Together CPR and the defibrillator undoubtedly saved my life; it’s incredible. I would like to think I would be able to give someone the same chance if the situation ever arose," said Stewart.

Donna Bates, Bubwith, near York

Donna was 39 when she had a cardiac arrest in June 2022

What happened?

Donna had been on an eight-mile walk along the remote Flamborough cliff top with two of her seven children when she felt short of breath and a tightness in her chest. Luckily a couple walked around the headland and stopped to ask if Donna was okay. The woman called 999 and seconds later Donna collapsed in cardiac arrest. That is when the man - who was a first-aider - recognised that he needed to start CPR. 

Donna said: “The right people were in the right place at the right time. To think I was in a remote location with no-one around and then out of nowhere a first aider appeared who was able to start CPR and call 999."

Jules Collett, Halifax

Jules was 56 when he had a cardiac arrest in March 2021

What happened?

Jules was out running with his 12-year-old son Henry near their home when he collapsed and stopped breathing. Henry, who had learnt CPR at school and with the scouts and sea cadets, called 999 and started CPR. He managed to attract the attention of a passer-by who took over CPR while he went to get a nearby defibrillator. Two Yorkshire Ambulance Service crews, a clinical supervisor and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance took over the life-saving efforts, shocking Jules three times with a defibrillator before his heart started again. He was taken to Calderdale Royal Hospital and discharged eight days later.

Jules said: “I’m incredibly proud of Henry. He kept his cool and did what he needed to do which is unbelievable in the circumstances and considering his age. He is an exceptional young man and I can’t thank him enough.”

Nigel Hamilton-Evans, Boroughbridge

Nigel was 57 when he had a cardiac arrest

What happened?

Nigel was walking along Aldborough Gate in Boroughbridge when he suddenly collapsed in cardiac arrest. A passer-by was driving to his home in Beverley and saw what happened. He pulled over, called 999 and started CPR.

Nigel said: "He did CPR and kept me alive until the ambulance arrived. If he hadn’t been passing at that exact moment, I wouldn’t be here today. I am so lucky that he knew what to do. A few people stopped to offer their help and, while doing CPR is hard work, he said the adrenaline had kicked in by that stage and he wanted to carry on; he said he was determined not to let me die.”

Don Brook, Liversedge

Don was 84 when he had a cardiac arrest in December 2020

What happened?

Don felt unwell on Boxing Day morning and rang his nephew-in-law Mark Kilburn for advice. Mark, who is a Community First Responder (CFR) for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, but wasn’t on duty at the time, instantly suspected there was a problem with his heart and rushed to help. He called 999 and alerted his CFR scheme co-ordinator Lynn Speight, to ask her to bring her kit and defibrillator. When the ambulance crew arrived, he went into cardiac arrest. Mark and Lynn helped by doing chest compressions. He was taken to Leeds General Infirmary where he had a stent fitted and was well enough to speak to his wife Joyce on the phone by 6.15 that evening.

Don said: “What Mark and the rest of the team did that day was marvellous. When I saw Mark for the first time after it had happened, it was very emotional. I was looking at a guy who had just saved my life; I didn’t know what to say, how can you find the words to express your appreciation?"

Andrew Jarvis, Worksop

Andrew was 60 when he had a cardiac arrest in August 2021

What happened?

Hallam FC sports therapist Shannon Brooks helped to resuscitate referee Andrew when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a football match. Shannon, supported by two others, used CPR and a defibrillator. Their quick response meant that Andrew's  heart started beating again, enabling the ambulance crew to continue with the life-saving efforts before airlifting him to Derby Royal Hospital. He had a stent fitted and made a good recovery.

Andrew said: “I am so incredibly grateful to everyone for their help that day; there are no words to thank someone for saving your life. I was in the right place at the right time with the right people – their response was world class. It’s so important that people know what to do when someone suffers a cardiac arrest and I am living proof of that."

Nigel Bradbury, Wakefield

Nigel was 52 when he had a cardiac arrest in December 2020

What happened?

Nigel Bradbury suffered a cardiac arrest late one night at his home and partner Jo Stanley immediately knew it was serious. She called 999 and started CPR, supported on the phone by Yorkshire Ambulance Service Emergency Medical Dispatcher Amanda Hare until the ambulance team arrived to take over the life-saving efforts. The father-of-two was unresponsive for 40 minutes and received 10 shocks from a defibrillator before starting to show signs of life.

Jo said: "It all feels quite surreal now. The 999 call taker was amazing, I couldn’t have done it without her, and the paramedics were out of this world. It turns out Nigel has cardiomyopathy induced by arrhythmia and he’s had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted."

Antony Hodges, Wath-upon-Dearne

Antony was 57 when his cardiac arrest happened in December 2021

What happened?

Antony was playing 10 holes of golf when he collapsed and stopped breathing. Luckily, his wife Janice was there and knew exactly what to do. While someone called 999 and went for Wath Golf Club’s on-site defibrillator, Janice and a fellow club member quickly began the resuscitation attempt.

“The fact that I was near the clubhouse when I started to feel ill, that someone called 999 and there was a defibrillator close by, that my wife and the fellow golf club member were able to start resuscitating me as soon as I collapsed (he had only popped in to cancel a game of golf); it all made a massive difference. I can’t thank everyone enough,” said Antony

Tony Edwards, Hull

Tony was  58 when he had a cardiac arrest in January 2020

What happened?

Tony had started feeling unwell while at the gym with what he thought was heartburn so he decided to leave early and go back to his home, had a shower and headed to bed. His wife Mandy, a GP Practice Manager in Willerby, heard a thud as Tony collapsed and fell from his bed. She quickly realised what was happening and called 999 before starting life-saving chest compressions.

Tony said: “My wife was amazing and kept me going until the ambulance crew arrived with the skills and equipment to save my life. I have such great admiration and respect for everything they all did that day.”

Victor Wainwright, Wakefield

Victor was 81 when he had a cardiac arrest in August 2020

What happened?

When Victor collapsed at home, Community First Responder John Best was volunteering from his home only a few streets away and was able to provide life-saving help within two minutes. When John arrived, Victor was unresponsive and his 26-year-old grandson had just started CPR so John was able to take over doing chest compressions and used a defibrillator twice to resuscitate him.

Victor, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, said: “I am a very fortunate man; everything fitted into place that day, from my wife Valerie hearing me collapse and calling 999, my grandson Jack being there to start CPR to John being just around the corner with the skills and equipment to save my life. I feel so blessed and grateful to everyone who helped.”

Craig Denny, Bradford

Craig was 39 when he had a cardiac arrest in September 2019

What happened?

Craig was working at the family garage, DC Motor Trading in Low Moor, Bradford, when he collapsed in the office in front of his father Paul. Craig's older brother Wayne carried out basic observations and it soon became clear that he was in cardiac arrest so he started CPR - a skill he had learnt in the Army 20 years earlier. Paramedics arrived to provide advanced life support and used a defibrillator four times before Craig’s heart started beating again.

Craig, a father of two daughters, said: “I can’t put into words how I feel about what Wayne did for me that day. It’s the ultimate thing anyone can do for you isn’t it? He is the reason I am alive and mentally well which is a huge thing. The paramedics and hospital staff were also incredible, I can’t praise them enough.”

Keith Procter, Ilkley

Keith was 71 when he had his cardiac arrest in April 2019

What happened?

Keith and his partner Kathy Connolly had stopped at Caffe Nero in Skipton while on a shopping trip when Keith collapsed. Luckily 21-year-old Martha Hogg was at work and she quickly recognised the seriousness of the emergency and started performing CPR which she had learned at Skipton Girls’ High School on Restart a Heart Day in 2015. Keith has since made a full recovery.

Keith said: “For Martha to have done the training at school and years later performed CPR so well that she saved my life is quite incredible. Martha will always be our special angel; she should feel so proud of herself and I won’t ever be able to thank her, or the ambulance staff, enough."

Watch Keith’s story here -

Melanie Robinson, Leeds

Melanie was 51 when she had her cardiac arrests on Restart a Heart Day 2018

What happened?

Melanie called 999 because she had chest pain.  She collapsed in front of the ambulance clinicians who resuscitated her four times before taking her to Leeds General Infirmary to have a stent fitted. Within four hours of making the emergency call, she was drinking a cup of tea on the coronary care unit.

Melanie said: “I can’t put into words how grateful I am for what the ambulance crew did for me that day. I feel so lucky. I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had suffered my cardiac arrests on Restart a Heart Day which is an amazing initiative and I am thrilled to be able promote the benefits of CPR in any way I can.” 

Gary Connor, Hull

Gary was 52-years-old when he suffered his cardiac arrest in 2019.

What happened?

Gary woke his wife Lisa in the night because he was feeling unwell and her instinct told her it was serious enough to call 999. As Gary was being taken to the ambulance, he suffered a cardiac arrest and was saved by a team of Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff who resuscitated him by performing CPR and using a defibrillator before taking him to Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham for emergency surgery.

Gary said: “Thank you is not a big enough word when it comes to expressing your gratitude to those who have saved your life. I was lucky in that I had my cardiac arrest in front of people who could perform CPR and use a defibrillator."

Kevin Moore, Pontefract

Kevin was 65 when he suffered a cardiac arrest in May 2019

What happened?

Kevin had just played a game of five-a-side football with his son Ben when he collapsed in the changing rooms at A1 Football Factory in Pontefract. That’s when stranger Chris Blackwell – who had learnt CPR on a first aid course six weeks earlier – and his friend Andrew Hudson, who retrieved the on-site defibrillator – which had been installed just 14 days previously – came to his rescue.

“I feel lucky that there was someone with the skills who was brave enough to do CPR, lucky that they had a defibrillator, lucky that the ambulance crew were not far away which cumulatively meant that I survived, and I feel good. I can’t thank everyone enough,” said the grandfather-of-five who has made a good recovery.

Ryk Downes, Pool-in-Wharfedale

Ryk was 51 when he had his cardiac arrest in January 2016

What happened?

Ryk had been on a 10-mile run when he collapsed just seconds from the front door of his home. Bystanders started CPR and also used a nearby community public access defibrillator located outside Pool-in-Wharfedale Post Office to revive him. He was airlifted by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary where he had a triple heart bypass. Within 14 weeks he was well enough to run the Leeds half marathon.

Ryk said: “A combination of CPR and the defibrillator is the reason I am here today. The bottom line is that if no-one does anything, the patient will die, but if you do something, their chances increase significantly so I would encourage as many people as possible to learn CPR.”

Curtis Randle, Knaresborough

Curtis was 45 when he suffered a cardiac arrest in May 2016

Curtis was walking through the Market Place in Knaresborough when he collapsed right next to the very first public access defibrillator to be installed in the town. An off-duty Community First Responder was also walking past at the time and immediately started CPR. Another Community First Responder arrived soon afterwards and they used the defibrillator to restart Curtis’s heart. Once stabilised, he was taken to Harrogate District Hospital by ambulance and put into an induced coma. He has made a full recovery after his cardiac arrest.

He said: “It is undoubtedly due to the very swift and efficient action of the first responders and their application of CPR, together with the use of the defibrillator, that I am here today.”

Neil Davidson, Halifax

Neil was 55 when he suffered a cardiac arrest in July 2017

Neil, a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, was at home when his heart stopped in the middle of the night. His quick-thinking son, Oliver, started CPR and continued until the ambulance crew arrived to take over. Oliver, who was staying with his parents at the time, learned how to perform CPR as a 15-year-old at Rishworth School near Sowerby Bridge.

After making a full recovery, Neil said: “They saved my life, good and proper. Words can’t describe how I feel about what they did to help me to survive and recover.

“I’m now doing a lot of work with the Resuscitation Council (UK), supporting Restart a Heart Day on 16 October, raising money for charities and also raising awareness of CPR. I’m going to campaign for every child in school to be taught this life-saving skill.”


Watch Neil’s story here -

David Pratt, Hornsea

David was 66 when he suffered a cardiac arrest in March 2018

David was walking through the town when he collapsed and three off-duty Community First Responders rushed to help him. They immediately started CPR and used a defibrillator to deliver an electric shock which restarted his heart. By the time an ambulance arrived, David had started breathing for himself.

He said: “After collapsing in the street with a cardiac arrest, the quick response of the volunteer Community First Responders and their knowledge and expertise in CPR and the use of the defibrillator saved my life. Without these volunteers, the outcome of the incident could have been very different, for which I will be forever grateful.”

Nigel Colton, Sheffield

Nigel was 52 when he suffered a cardiac arrest in May 2017

What happened?

Nigel was discovered unconscious and not breathing by his wife Joanne at their home in Mosborough, Sheffield. Their son Herbie, who was 15 at the time, was woken by screams for help and immediately started performing CPR, a skill he had learnt both at school and through the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme. The ambulance team used a defibrillator and eventually Nigel’s heart stared beating again. He was transferred to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where he stayed for 12 days. He has made a full recovery.

Nigel said: “What Herbie did was amazing. To think he was woken up by his mum screaming that I had died, then sprang into action and did CPR like it was something he’d done many times before is unbelievable. I now have to find the balance between being his dad and wanting to spoil him forever because he saved my life!”

Gerson Costa Neto, Leeds

Gerson was 17 when he had a cardiac arrest in October 2016

What happened?

Gerson was playing football at Leeds West Academy when he collapsed on the pitch. First on scene was student receptionist Sarah Stead who performed CPR and used a defibrillator, assisted by her colleagues, before an ambulance team arrived and took over the life-saving attempt. Gerson spent the next few days in a coma at Leeds General Infirmary and was diagnosed with a heart condition which meant he had to have an internal defibrillator fitted.

He said: “If I had not been playing sport at school when it happened, I may not be here today. I survived because my cardiac arrest happened in front of people who were able to help me. I’ve never really understood the importance of CPR but now I think everyone should learn it because you could save someone’s life.”

Alex Cowes, York

He was 15 when he had a cardiac arrest on 30 April 2015

What happened?

Alex collapsed in cardiac arrest during a PE lesson at Fulford School in York and was resucitated by two teachers and two office staff who called 999 and used CPR and a defibrillator. An ambulance team stablised Alex then took him to York Hospital and he had a cardioverter defibrillator implanted in his chest to continuously monitor his heartbeat. Within a few weeks Alex was back at school sitting 14 GCSE exams.

“I am so thankful to the staff at the school for acting as quickly as they did; what they did saved my life - they were brilliant!” said Alex.

Watch Alex's story here -

Megan Hughes, Wakefield

Megan was 23 when she had a cardiac arrest in December 2015

What happened?

Megan had been suffering from seizure-like symptoms when she went into cardiac arrest one morning. Her partner James Parmar, a police officer, immediately realised she wasn’t breathing and rang 999 before starting CPR. When the ambulance team arrived they continued with the resuscitation attempt which was successful after 28 minutes. Megan was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome which causes problems with the electrical activity of the heart. She was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and was back at work after five weeks.

Megan said: “I feel really lucky and grateful that James was there when it happened and that he knew how to do CPR. Without him the outcome would have been very different. Everyone should know how to do CPR; it’s not difficult to learn. People have said they are worried about performing CPR for fear of doing some damage but the reality is if you do nothing, the person probably wouldn’t survive. I certainly wouldn’t mind a few broken ribs if it meant being alive.”

Jovan Bjelan, Harrogate

Jovan was 55 when he a cardiac arrest in May 2016

What happened?

Jovan collapsed at home while doing some DIY and his wife Carolyn, who was first aid trained, started CPR while speaking to the 999 ambulance call taker on speaker phone. She continued until ambulance clinicians arrived and they managed to get Jovan’s heart beating again. He was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Doctors never discovered what caused Jovan’s heart failure, but he has been fitted with an internal cardiac defibrillator which will shock his heart if it happens again.

Carolyn said: “I’ve been a Brownie leader for years and having worked in construction too, I’ve always kept my first aid training up and had done CPR refresher training just a month before this happened. If I hadn’t Jovan might not be here. I do feel really strongly that CPR training should be much more widely taught in workplaces, in the community and in every school. We need to raise more awareness about the importance of having these skills.”

Poppy Palmer, York

Poppy was 14-months-old when she had a cardiac arrest in February 2016

What happened?

Poppy had stopped breathing in her mother’s arms after suffering a heart attack which triggered a cardiac arrest. York-based Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Lisa Derbyshire was two minutes away when she got the call so was able to promptly start using rescue breaths and CPR and within a few minutes, Poppy started responding to her life-saving efforts. Despite numerous further complications during a three-week stay in hospital, Poppy has made a fantastic recovery.

Mum Elaine said: “Poppy was minutes from death, the situation was that grave, and if it hadn’t been for Lisa’s efforts that night she wouldn’t have made it to hospital for the medical care to continue – she is incredible and we can’t thank her enough."

Chris Solomons, Wakefield

Chris was 48 when he had his cardiac arrest in July 2010

What happened?

Chris was working as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher at the Yorkshire Air Ambulance when he suffered a massive heart attack which triggered a cardiac arrest. A television crew were filming for Helicopter Heroes at the time and captured footage of the moment Chris was resuscitated by his paramedic colleagues and a cameraman ( Chris has made a full recovery and spends his time campaigning about the importance of CPR training and defibrillators.

Chris: “I’m still standing today because of the difference CPR and early treatment with a defibrillator made to my life. It is vital that people are aware of the life-saving difference they can make when someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest."

Dan Fagg, Doncaster

Dan was 10 when he suffered a cardiac arrest on 21 August 2016

What happened?

Dan was playing football for his local team when he collapsed in cardiac arrest. Referee Chris Crowe immediately started CPR. When Yorkshire Ambulance Service clinicians arrived, Dan was shocked twice with a defibrillator before being airlifted by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Dan was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary where he had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted. He was back at home six days later. 

Dan’s mum Hayley said: “No-one expects a 10-year-old to suffer a cardiac arrest but what subsequently happened on the pitch that day saved Dan’s life. They acted quickly and were so efficient and didn’t stop CPR until the paramedics arrived."

Caroline Kimberling, York

Caroline was 36 when she had her cardiac arrest in October 2014

What happened?

Caroline was with two of her young sons when she went into cardiac arrest while at the cinema. Wes Hall, a member of staff trained in first aid, and off-duty nurse Zara Weston started CPR. When the ambulance crew arrived, they used a defibrillator to restore to her heart to a natural rhythm and she was taken to York Hospital. Caroline made a full recovery and was able to return to her job as a teacher.

Caroline said: “The people who saved my life acted bravely and quickly, which meant my four boys still have their mum. And not only that, I have suffered no lasting damage from the fairly significant length of time I spent without breathing and without my heart beating for itself. I can’t ever thank them enough. I feel it is incredibly important that as many people as possible learn how to deliver CPR, including schoolchildren. I believe they are every bit as able as adults to deliver CPR."

Ellen Hallas, Barnsley

Ellen was 50 when she had her cardiac arrest in December 2016

What happened?

Ellen collapsed while working on a production line at Kostal UK Ltd in Goldthorpe, Rotherham, due to an existing heart condition; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Her daughter Rachel, a Team Leader at the firm, and two of her colleagues started CPR and used the on-site defibrillator to resuscitate Ellen. She remained in hospital for five weeks and was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) which, in the event of cardiac arrest, automatically delivers a shock to help restart the heart.

“I am in awe of the people who saved my life; I can’t thank them enough. It shows how important it is for workplaces to have defibrillators on their premises because without the kit at Kostal and the efforts of my daughter and colleagues who did CPR, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Ellen.

Bob Addenbrooke, Sheffield

Bob was 61 when he suffered his cardiac arrest in August 2016

What happened?

Bob woke up in the middle of the night feeling like he couldn't breathe. His wife called 999 and he suffered a cardiac arrest in the back of the ambulance where he was resuscitated by our clinicians using CPR and a defibrillator. He was transferred to Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where he had a stent fitted.

Bob, a retired fire officer, said: "I owe everything to the paramedics who saved my life when I had a cardiac arrest. I was lucky because my cardiac arrest happened in front of paramedics but anyone can learn CPR and use a defibrillator and make a positive difference to someone in my situation."

Alfredo Cantoni, Italy

Alfredo was 74 when he had a cardiac arrest in May 2016

What happened?

Alfredo collapsed on board P&O Ferries’ Pride of York which was about to leave for Zeebrugge from King George Dock in Hull. Jason Moore, On Board Services Manager, with support from his colleagues, used CPR and a defibrillator to save his life. The team from YAS were then able to stabilise Alfredo before taking him to Hull Royal Infirmary. Alfredo and his wife Elizabeth returned to the UK just three months later to be reunited with the ferry crew and ambulance staff who saved his life.

Alfredo said: “Words can’t express how I felf to travel back to England to meet the people who saved my life; it’s incredible. You have no idea of the great pleasure it was to present the certificates of commendation. So far I have had a very good life and the fact that I can carry on with it is great.”