Pool fan thanks lifesavers

Derek Smith reunited with matron Tracey Garde at Lancashire Cardiac Centre, Blackpool . Also pictured are PC Garry Lee (left) and Paramedic Steve Nicholls.
Derek Smith reunited with matron Tracey Garde at Lancashire Cardiac Centre, Blackpool . Also pictured are PC Garry Lee (left) and Paramedic Steve Nicholls.
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A Blackpool FC fan who suffered a heart attack at a football match has met the people who saved his life for the first time.

Derek Smith, 79, went into cardiac arrest shortly after leaving Blackpool’s match at Bolton Wanderers earlier this month.

He was saved after his daughter Maria’s partner Mark Green was able to alert a nearby policeman, PC Garry Lee, while an off-duty nurse, Tracey Garde, rushed to Mr Smith’s aid.

Mr Smith, from Bispham, has no recollection of the “terrifying experience” or the day before it, but is now recovering in Blackpool Victoria Hospital and received a visit from the lifesavers yesterday afternoon.

Paying tribute to them, Mr Smith told The Gazette: “What can I say. I’d never seen them before when they all walked in, it was out of this world.

“They were absolutely fantastic.

“They knew what they were doing and they were in the right place at the right moment.”

Mr Green, 52, recalled the horrific ordeal.

He said: “It was just a terrifying experience.

“You see it on the TV but when you see it yourself it’s different, it’s a bit of a shock to the system.

“When he opened his eyes after two days it was a massive relief.

“They were telling us we had to fear the worst with it being so serious, but we’re just grateful to the people that helped.”

Coincidentally Mr Smith and Mr Green were sat behind former Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a heart attack during a game last year, at the match.

Grandfather-of-four Mr Smith put local rivalries aside to sport a Bolton scarf in honour of Trotters’ supporter Tracey Garde, who performed CPR on him outside the Reebok Stadium.

Mrs Garde, a matron at the Royal Bolton Hospital, said: “All that was going through my mind at the time was that this is somebody’s dad and grandad.

“I lost my dad four years ago and I thought I’ve just got to do everything possible to try and save this man’s life.

“In all honesty I didn’t think he’d survive, he looked so ill.

“When I found out he was alright I was absolutely made up.”

PC Lee added: “It was the longest five minutes of my life, but it’s nice to see him now.”

Sports-mad Mr Smith, nicknamed Bootsy, regularly umpires Palace Shield cricket matches across the Fylde.

His grandsons Theo, 14, and nine-year-old Heath, are promising goalkeepers on the books of Aston Villa and Notts Forest respectively.