Dad-of-three’s emotional reunion with volunteers who saved his life after he collapsed on a park run

A dad-of-three had an emotional reunion with the group of people who saved his life after a sudden heart attack.

Darren Nicholls, from Charnock Richard, collapsed after a training run for Chorley Council’s Couch to 5k event and needed CPR and a defibrillator to re-start his heart.

Photo Neil Cross
Darren Nicholls suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training for a 5K run in Astley Park, Chorley, and was saved by race volunteers using a defibrillator
Darren with lifesavers Andrew Dowding and Stuart and Gemma Nelson

Photo Neil Cross Darren Nicholls suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training for a 5K run in Astley Park, Chorley, and was saved by race volunteers using a defibrillator Darren with lifesavers Andrew Dowding and Stuart and Gemma Nelson

The 48-year-old spent three weeks in hospital after a four-hour heart triple bypass but made a shock appearance at the race this weekend to thank the people who looked after him before the ambulance arrived.

“I am eternally grateful because there’s no doubt without these people I would not have survived or been in a normal state today,” the engine tester said. “I was on the verge of leaving my three young children and partner so I’m glad I was able to say thank you.”

Darren was just doing a warm-down after completing one of the last training runs with a group who were completing the nine-week fitness programme at Astley Park, Chorley,

But as they began to stretch their arms, fellow runner Andrew Dowling saw Darren fall to the ground.

Photo Neil Cross
Darren Nicholls suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training for a 5K run in Astley Park, Chorley, and was saved by race volunteers using a defibrillator
Mark Jarnell of Chorleys Angels

Photo Neil Cross Darren Nicholls suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training for a 5K run in Astley Park, Chorley, and was saved by race volunteers using a defibrillator Mark Jarnell of Chorleys Angels

The 47-year-old entrepreneur from Coppull said: “He seemed absolutely fine on the 4k run but then he fell like a plank straight onto his face.

“I thought he had just passed out but as I phoned 999 and checked him, I realised he wasn’t breathing.

“The ambulance staff on the phone said we had to start CPR and get the defibrillator and so a team of us started CPR while some others found the machine.

“We did that for about 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived and just hoped they’d be able to save him.”

Photo Neil Cross
Darren Nicholls suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training for a 5K run in Astley Park, Chorley, and was saved by race volunteers using a defibrillator
Darren's son Brandon presents his dad with his own medal, watched by daughter Louise

Photo Neil Cross Darren Nicholls suffered a cardiac arrest whilst training for a 5K run in Astley Park, Chorley, and was saved by race volunteers using a defibrillator Darren's son Brandon presents his dad with his own medal, watched by daughter Louise

Darren says he was put into an induced coma before the surgery and couldn’t remember anything when he woke up.

“I had no idea who saved me or what had happened,” he said. “The last thing I remember is doing the run and then I’m waking up hospital.”

But on Saturday, Darren bravely returned to the scene of the incident to watch daughters Jodie, 14, Louise, 10 and son Brandon, 13, complete the run in his place.

He said: “They wanted to do it for me and when I got there a few people came over and asked how I was.

“That’s when I realised they were the ones that saved my life and I couldn’t thank them enough.

“The doctors couldn’t really explain what caused the heart attack but these people who I barely know helped me to see my children and partner again.

“I’ll never be able to re-pay what they did.”