A HAULAGE driver, who managed to drive to safety before he suffered two heart attacks, has thanked his lifesavers following the ordeal.

Gary Dickeson from Wark had been experiencing pins and needles in his arm and began to feel unwell during a normal shift at work in January, when he was in the area.

The 47-year-old managed to drive from the sawmill yard on the edge of the village to the post office, where his sister worked, but he collapsed when he arrived.

His sister called his mother Daphne, who rushed to the scene.

Daphne said: “One of the girls from the village who was coming down for her newspaper is also a nurse so she was able to keep me and the others calm until the paramedics arrived.

“The paramedics were really quick, but at the time it felt like time was going so slowly.

“They were using the defibrillator, and could see there was something dreadful going on with his heart.”

The village’s defibrillator, which was only installed two years ago after Wark First School funded it through a grant it had received from the EDF Energy Green Rigg Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund at the Community Foundation, proved to be a vital lifeline as paramedics were able to use it to restart Gary’s heart.

Gary was transported to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle for treatment, where it soon became clear he had had two heart attacks and other minor heart failures caused by a blockage.

“All I can remember is waking up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and then on the operating table,” explained Gary.

On Monday, he finally received the all clear from the DVLA with permission to drive, and was able to head back to work after three months off.

Following his recovery, he has thanked those who helped to save his life.

“The first two weeks I didn’t do much as I was taking it easy, but I have since been regularly exercising as the doctor said.

“I have spent a lot of time thinking about what could have happened.

“I have to be really grateful to everyone who helped to ensure I’m still here today.”