A MAN whose heart stopped while running the Tonbridge Half Marathon has become a trustee of the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance (KSSAA) who helped to save his life that day.
Barney Burgess described it as ‘a charity that I am enormously passionate about and committed to supporting’.
He had less than a mile of the race to run in October 2015 when he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed in the road near Hayesden Country Park.
Fellow runners and race marshals performing CPR until a motorcycle paramedic arrived and treated him with a defibrillator.
It took three attempts to restart Mr Burgess’s heart before he was stabilised, placed in an induced coma and flown to King’s College Hospital by the Air Ambulance. The father of three from Bidborough took 10 days to recover.
Mr Burgess, now 46, said: “I’ve competed in triathlons and always been active in various sports, so have kept myself in pretty good shape.
“I’ve no memory of what happened that day other than the start of the race and then two days later when I was in hospital.
“The simple fact is I wouldn’t be here now without the rapid intervention of fellow runners, race marshals and specialist paramedics and doctors who worked on me as I lay in the road.”
Race organiser Andy Blundell commented: “It’s great news that Barney is becoming a trustee for the KSSAA. They did a brilliant job in saving his life on the day of the race and made headlines for the half marathon for all the right reasons. It could so easily have gone the other way.”
Barney later decided to visit the KSSAA crew, based in Marden, who saved his life to thank them.
Now his ‘exemplary professional credentials’, which include senior roles at Tesco, encouraged the KSSAA Trust to approach him.
The chair of Trustees, Helen Bowcock, said: “It is fair to say my fellow trustees don’t normally possess such a close personal experience of the air ambulance when they join the board!
“However, in Barney we have someone who has hands-on experience of the life-saving work the KSSAA undertakes and an outstanding commercial CV.
“I am delighted he agreed to join the board and look forward to working with him at a time when, as a charity, we are introducing new services and embarking upon a growth strategy.”
Barney added: “I owe my life to the expert medical assistance I received that day. Having a seat on the board allows me to give something back to a charity that I am enormously passionate about and committed to supporting.”
The charity is almost entirely supported by donations; for more information visit www.kssairambulance.org.uk