A DOCTOR who had a heart attack while cycling to work has thanked the passers-by responsible for saving his life.

Consultant gynaecologist Richard Sill (64) was cycling from his home in Whalton to Hexham General Hospital when he began to feel unwell as he travelled along Corbridge Road.

“My next thought was ‘I am going to have to stop cycling, I am going to have to put the brakes on’, and that was my last memory before being in the ambulance. I had had a mild heart attack which had put me in to cardiac arrest.”

Thankfully a school bus had been behind him, and the driver, followed by other passing members of the public, pulled over to help.

The group, which included two nurses, came together to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and school bus driver John Smith called 999.

Mr Sill said that although he had previously been sceptical of the results of administering CPR in public, due to the low success rates, the experience had made him realise its importance.

The efforts of everyone involved achieved the return of spontaneous circulation before Mr Sill was taken to the RVI, before being transferred to the Freeman Hospital and had two stents inserted.

Following the heart attack on September 12, Mr Sill has now made a full recovery and returned to work, and has even been back out on his bike.

“The statistics show that only 10 per cent of people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and get home from hospital. Only eight per cent survive without brain damage. I have been lucky.

“It has made me realise that the more people who are able to carry out CPR in the community, the more likely people are to survive.

“I am living proof that there are people who can make a complete recovery.”

And as a thank you to those who saved his life, Mr Sill organised a reunion at Matfen Hall for six of the passers-by – Charley Higham, Janice de Vere, Liz Poole, Demelza Gregory and Tanya Cassidy, along with school bus driver John Smith who called 999 – and the ambulance crew David Hare and Hayley Robertson who were called to the scene.

Charley is a staff nurse at RVI A&E in Newcastle. She said: “I was flagged down by two men. I checked for a pulse and for any injuries. There wasn’t a community defibrillator nearby, but we all worked together, even though we were all strangers.”