Awards, News - 21st July 2017

Paying it forward

Neil Cole awards

I was delighted to see the four amazing parkrunners who saved my life in 2015 recognised with an award at a ceremony hosted by London Ambulance Service. The LAS ‘Saving Lives Awards’ are designed to recognise members of the public who have done something incredible and intervened in a situation to help save somebody’s life.


When I went into cardiac arrest at Hilly Fields parkrun on New Year’s Day 2015, it was only the quick thinking of the runners around me that kept me alive. They performed CPR on me for almost 15 minutes, before a paramedic arrived and was able to re-start my heart with a defibrillator.


I was incredibly lucky to be at a parkrun where four of my fellow parkrunners were trained in resuscitation. When I collapsed while queuing up to have my barcode read, Bhupinder Kohli, Anne Milstein, Siggy Robson and Liam Stogden came to help immediately. They worked as a team to keep me alive in those minutes before the ambulance arrived, which must have felt like hours.


Since my lucky escape, I have been in regular contact with the London Ambulance Service, and am doing what I can to raise money for their Voluntary Responder charity, as well as raising awareness of the importance of CPR and the presence of defibrillators (known as AEDs) in public places. When I went through the full detail of my story with the team that lead the LAS charity, they suggested putting my team of parkrun lifesavers forward for the award.


The “Community Resuscitation Award” was presented to them at an awards ceremony at Lambeth Palace, in recognition of the incredible role they played in saving my life. The awards ceremony was an amazing occasion, with several hundred people there from all walks of life. We heard some unbelievable stories of bravery, dedication and selflessness from people who had intervened in some unimaginable situations to help save others. I was so pleased that Bhupinder, Anne, Siggy and Liam won the award and could see how it much meant to them. The events on that New Year’s Day must have been traumatic to be involved with, not to mention the uncertainty as to what would happen once I was taken off in the ambulance.


The Hilly Fields team were given an AED as a prize for the award they won from LAS. Because Hilly Fields already have their own AED, they very kindly donated it to Hoblingwell parkrun ahead of their launch on 15 July.


My focus now is all on taking positives from what happened, and making the most of the fact I’ve been able to make a full recovery. I completed Reading Half Marathon in March, just over two years post cardiac arrest, and got round in one piece and in just under two hours. More importantly, the incredible support of my friends, family, colleagues and the parkrun community meant I raised nearly £6,000 for the London Ambulance Service charity. Thank you to everyone who contributed! One of the reasons I wanted to support the LAS charity is that they were happy to involve me in the decision as to where the funds raised are spent. Since what happened, I have become passionate about the importance of AEDs – I was amazingly lucky to last 15 minutes without one, and I know how rare that is. An AED is the only way of truly resuscitating someone who has had a cardiac arrest, and the quicker one can be got to the patient, the higher the chances of survival.


Given how integral parkrun has been in my story, my survival, and my subsequent recovery (62 parkruns completed post cardiac arrest!) – I have asked for the money to be spent on defibrillators for parkrun events in London. The LAS have kindly agreed, and we are now working on a programme of rolling out AEDs to those events who do not already have one. This combined with the outstanding fundraising work that has been going on across the country by parkrun communities, should help get parkrun towards the goal of having 100% AED coverage by the end of 2018.


Neil Cole
parkrunner A94883


Click here to read Neil’s story in full

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