A BELL ringer died after choking on a chicken bone during a pub meal despite frantic efforts to save him.
Stuart Berry, who had celebrated his 50th birthday a day earlier, had ordered a mixed grill but began to choke on it.
He stood up, leant against a wall before the brave landlord tried to dislodge the bone using the Heimlich Manoeuvre.
A nurse then tried to give him CPR but he was dead before the ambulance turned up.
Today, his grieving family and fellow churchgoers paid a moving tribute to a “peaceful and friendly” man who was an active member of his community.
An inquest heard Mr Berry had gone to The Blossoms, in Woodlands Road, Ansdell on October 24 last year and ordered a mixed grill from landlord Andrew Halcroft.
His meal arrived 15 minutes later and Mr Halcroft recalled Mr Berry saying it looked “fantastic”.
Mr Halcroft was cleaning menus around 10 feet away when he saw Mr Berry stand up suddenly and lean against the wall, the inquest heard. Mr Halcroft then attempted to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre as Mr Berry gasped for breath, but when this failed Mr Berry collapsed to the floor.
Staff at the pub then rang for an ambulance but by this point Mr Berry had turned purple in the face and lips.
A nurse, who was a customer in the pub, attempted CPR on Mr Berry but it was too late. Speaking to The Gazette after the inquest Mr Berry’s brother Andrew, whose father also died a fortnight ago, said: “Stuart was a gentle person who liked talking to people. He loved gardening, plants and flowers and he was a local character.
“He was also keen on bettering himself and he was always doing college courses.”
Mr Berry was born in Blackburn to parents Brian and Maureen and had learning difficulties throughout his life.
In 1975 he moved to Preston with his mother, stepfather, Andrew and other brother David, who also died last year of deep vein thrombosis. Mr Berry moved to Ansdell around eight years ago, where he soon became a member of St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, later converting to Catholicism. Outside of the church his main hobby was transport, taking an interest in anything involving trains, buses and trucks.
Richard Jones, captain of the St Joseph’s bell ringing group, said: “I knew Stuart for a number of years and he got really quite involved. He was a good bell ringer and he used to ring on Sunday services.
“He was a jovial sort of character and he always tried to better himself. St Joseph’s provided him with the interest in life through faith and he was a bit of a personality. It was a shock when he died.”
Assistant deputy coroner Sarah Barclay recorded a verdict of accidental death.