Rugby man who twice faced 'ultimate medical emergency' to run marathon for heart charity - The Rugby Observer

Rugby man who twice faced 'ultimate medical emergency' to run marathon for heart charity

Rugby Editorial 15th Apr, 2018   0

PAUL Nelson certainly knows the importance of CPR.

And the 54-year-old from Rugby will be taking on the London Marathon on April 22 in the hope of helping make others aware by raising money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Paul is taking to the streets of the capital after administering Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to two people in the space of six months last year – memories which he says will stay with him for the rest of his life.

While driving home last April, when he had only been married to wife Dorte for just a week, Paul noticed a man lying on a driveway.

The 62-year-old’s heart was not beating so Paul started giving CPR while Dorte knocked on the door of the house and shouted for help. Unfortunately, the man, whose name was David, died a few days later.

And six months later, while on holiday in Croatia, Paul noticed an elderly man floating in the sea.

He hoisted the man out of the water and began CPR. As they were on a small island, it took an hour before help arrived and after ten minutes administering CPR, there was nothing more Paul could do. Paul later discovered that the man’s name was Pierre and he was in his 80s.

Paul said: “It was a cold morning when I found David lying on his driveway, so between taking turns giving chest compressions, all my wife and I could do was to try and comfort and support his family as they faced this nightmare. It felt as though we were giving CPR for an eternity, but it was only minutes before the first ambulance arrived.

“When you’re faced with the ultimate medical emergency, you go into autopilot. I was in quite deep water when I got to Pierre and it was difficult to get him out of the water due to the tide. As soon as the adrenaline began to wear off after administering CPR, I became conscious of pain in my right foot. I looked down to see that I had stepped on sea urchins and my foot was full of black spines, which presented an entirely different set of challenges for a few weeks.”

Paul said he agreed to be trained in CPR while coaching at his son’s rugby club due to a childhood experience.

He said: “I vividly remember walking through a shopping centre in Watford as a child with my late dad when we saw a man having a cardiac arrest. No-one around seemed to know how to help and I remember feeling helpless.

“So when I was asked if I wanted to be trained in CPR, I immediately said yes – but I never thought in a million years I would actually have to use it.”

He added he was taking on the London Marathon so as many people as possible could learn how to administer CPR – and also to help fund more heart research.

“I tried my best to save David and Pierre – both of those events will remain with me for the rest of my life – and I’m now trying to help others to take action in the ultimate medical emergency.”

Around 400 runners will help fight heart disease by running the marathon for BHF, raising close to £1million towards pioneering heart research.

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year and the overall survival rate is less than one in ten

BHF events manager Karen McDonnell said: “We are thrilled Paul has chosen to take on this legendary challenge for the BHF and will be supporting him every step of the way.

“Around 10,500 people live with heart and circulatory disease in Rugby. By joining the fight, Paul really will be helping us stop heart disease in its tracks.”

Visit to sponsor Paul. Visit events to find out more about the BHF’s programme of events.


A POLICEMAN will be pounding the pavements in memory of a teenager who passed away after a battle with cancer.

Gary Hammond’s niece’s son Joel died after being diagnosed with cute myeloid leukemia – cancer of the blood and bone marrow – in 2013.

The 52-year-old is determined to complete the London Marathon to help the Teenage Cancer Trust to help other young people diagnosed with the disease.

He said: “Joel was a typical 15-year-old boy, enjoyed playing rugby, going kickboxing and hanging out with his mates.

“My world crumbled when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

“But the dedicated staff on the ward at Birmingham Children’s hospital were amazing and we received incredible support from the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Bilton High school student Joel was diagnosed five weeks after complaints of flu-like symptoms which doctors initially dismissed as a virus.

Dad-of-three Gary will be running the marathon for the third time and is aiming to raise £3,000.

Visit for to support Gary.

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