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03 Aug

Richard returns to thank Alnwick life savers

Richard Betteridge who suffered a cardiac arrest while swimming in the pool at Willowburn Sport and Leisure centre in Alnwick, returned to the centre this week to thank the staff who helped to save his life.

In a happy reunion, Richard, expressed his sincere gratitude to the team on duty for their prompt and professional actions, and for working the defibrillator machine which helped to keep him alive until paramedics arrived.

Active Northumberland employees Glenn Robson, Alex Storey and Joe Archbold were all on duty that evening.

Alex was on watch on the poolside at the time when he noticed Richard go under the water and fail to resurface. He radioed the team for back up and with the help from members of the Tri club who were swimming at the time, dived in and pulled Richard out of the pool. Glenn rushed to the poolside with the defibrillator while Joe called 999. Together they performed CPR and used the defibrillator to restart his heart before the paramedics arrived.

Richard said:

“I am a regular member at the centre and enjoy the very well-structured exercises classes with the qualified instructors and using the excellent facilities such as the pool to help me maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. I certainly felt very fit and healthy for my age and I had no warning signs at all. I never expected anything like this to happen to me but when it did, I was extremely lucky to be in the right place - with a defibrillator machine at hand and fully trained staff to give me the life-saving treatment I needed. I really can’t thank the staff at Active Northumberland enough.

“I had a stent fitted to correct the heart issue and I have been welcomed back by all the staff at Willowburn Sport Centre. Now with medical approval, Jane and Morag at Willowburn have been brilliant tailoring and monitoring exercise programmes to suit my health needs post operation for an active rehabilitation.”

Steve Temple, manager of the Willowburn Sports Centre said that the prompt and professional actions of the team on duty that day undoubtedly helped to save the life of Richard when he went into cardiac arrest in the pool.

“Our staff are extremely well trained for incidents such as this - but to keep calm, think clearly and put that training into action during the extreme pressure of a real life or death incident is quite another matter. They told me their training automatically kicked in and they knew exactly what to do during the emergency. I’m very proud of how the team handled such a stressful situation.”

“It was really nice to meet Richard again under better circumstances, and it’s great to see that he’s made such a speedy recovery.”

Active Northumberland also run a GP Exercise on Referral Scheme which Richard is now taking part in. Most people are aware that being active is good for your health, but knowing what activities are suitable can be very daunting if you have a medical condition.

Those taking part in the scheme have a structured and monitored exercise programme which is delivered in a safe and social environment by an experienced team of instructors.

If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme contact your GP or practice nurse to see if you are eligible. Alternatively contact Active Northumberland on Tel: 01670 620200 or email:

Residents are also being invited to sign up to a free weight management programme which is being run by Active Northumberland to help participants to achieve a long-lasting healthy weight and boost their wellbeing.

If you are interested in taking part, please email Or you can sign up to the programme at


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