Stuart Ritchie is a 68-year-old resident of Pinar de Campoverde in the South of the Alicante region of Spain. He lives there with his wife Maureen and is a key member of the Portobello Bar Walking Football Club.

The team had decided last year to use some of their funds to purchase a defibrillator, because they realised the inherent dangers of pushing their stamina to the limit whilst playing walking football.

The team was put in contact with defibshop in Irlam, Manchester. The club’s chosen defibrillator was the Heartsine Samaritan PAD 360P and some of the team received training.

On Thursday 24th May, at half-time, the team went to drink, Stuart being one of them. He reached an area off the pitch, where he collapsed, and his head hit the ground. His fellow players rushed to his side.

Present on that day was ex-nurse Lorraine Connor, who had been refereeing the game. Stuart was not breathing and did not have a pulse or a heartbeat. Lorraine called for the defibrillator and started CPR while Kevin Leonard provided mouth-to-mouth, Steven Howarth used the defibrillator, and Dave Lock requested an ambulance.

As per his training, Steven placed the electrode pads on Stuart, before moving clear of Stuart, who at this point was cyanosed, going blue around the lips and face. The team watched on as the electric shock was delivered to Stuart, and they saw him open his eyes.

Stuart fitted but regained his breath and had a heartbeat and was then placed into the recovery position by Lorraine, but this proved to be slightly more difficult than usual, because Stuart was involuntarily restless.

Soon after, three ambulances, ten paramedics, and the police arrived. A friend of Stuart’s, Paul Hainsworth, was dispatched to get hold of Stuart’s wife Maureen. With the help of a police officer, the team translated what had happened to the paramedic in charge.

Once stable, Stuart was put in one of the ambulances and taken to Alicante Hospital, where a cardiologist awaited him, he was then transferred to a hospital in Elche, where he was operated on the following morning by Dr. Tebar (cardiologist / surgeon).

Dr. Tebar said: “It was the sharp action of his teammates and the presence / use of the defibrillator that had saved his life.”

This picture of the football team was taken just five days before Stuart fell victim to sudden cardiac arrest. Stuart is on the back row, extreme left. Kevin Leonard, who performed mouth-to-mouth, is back-centre wearing yellow. Steven Howarth is on the front row, extreme left.


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