Oldham Athletic fan Melvin Kenyon was a welcome guest at the world record attempt launched at the Proact Stadium on Friday.
Organisers are hoping to set a new record for the number of people receiving a first aid lesson when the event takes place on the pitch at the Proact on May 20.
Melvin is living proof of the vital importance of first aid skills, after his life was saved when he collapsed while watching his side in action at the Proact in mid-November.
Taking up the story, Melvin said: “I have an extremely vague recollection of the day. Everything was fine up until the end of the minute’s silence in memory of the Paris attack victims, then I collapsed. Fortunately, among the Oldham supporters, there were a couple of people who could administrate CPR. One of them was an off-duty paramedic and they started work on me before the East Midlands Ambulance Service arrived. They worked on me for the whole of the first half.
“I’ve been in touch with the off-duty paramedic and apologised for him missing the whole of the first half. He said, ‘Don’t worry, it wasn't very good anyway’. At least he saw Oldham win in the second half!”
An Oldham supporter since the age of six, 58-year-old Melvin admits he has no real memories of the game. “I know I was revived and transferred to the Chesterfield Royal Hospital. I was then moved on to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield and discharged about a month later. I never thought I’d say I’m happy to be back at Chesterfield, but I am. I am very grateful for everything that the people of Chesterfield FC did for me. I gather the club doctor got involved, as did the St John Ambulance volunteers while the stewards helped provide a bit of dignity.
“I wouldn't say I’m fighting fit and back to normal because I’ve got a defibrillator fitted on my left-hand side, which is there to kick in should it happen again. I have good days and bad days, but I still go to football matches. I’m hopefully getting stronger every day and I hope I’ll be ‘fighting fit’ soon.”
Melvin has urged as many people as possible to attend the event on May 20, which is being organised by the Community Save a Life Scheme, in partnership with Bolsover District Council. Chesterfield FC, British Heart Foundation, Rotary International and Inner Wheel are also offering their support. “I think its absolutely critical more people are trained in CPR and first aid generally,” said Melvin. “The world record attempt on May 20 is a means to do this and spread the word.
“I know Gareth from East Midlands Ambulance Service does a lot of work in schools and local MPs are voting for CPR-related first aid to be included in the national curriculum, so the more people that are trained in these techniques the better. If one person is trained and that person saves one life, then that’s made it all worthwhile.”