Cardiac arrest swimmer thanks Alnwick leisure centre staff who saved his life

A man who suffered a cardiac arrest while swimming at Alnwick leisure centre has returned to thank staff who helped save his life.
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Staff at the Willowburn Sport and Leisure Centre used a defibrillator to help keep Richard Betteridge alive until paramedics arrived.

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

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Alex was on watch on the poolside at the time when he noticed Richard go under the water and fail to resurface.

Glenn Robson, Joe Archbold, Richard Betteridge, Steve Temple (centre manager) and Alex Storey.Glenn Robson, Joe Archbold, Richard Betteridge, Steve Temple (centre manager) and Alex Storey.
Glenn Robson, Joe Archbold, Richard Betteridge, Steve Temple (centre manager) and Alex Storey.

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.

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Richard, from Warkworth, said: “I am a regular member at the centre and enjoy the 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.

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"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 at Willowburn, said 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,” he said.

“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.

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“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.

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.

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Alternatively contact Active Northumberland on 01670 620200 or email: [email protected]

Residents are also being invited to sign up to a free weight management programme which is being run by Active Northumberland. If you are interested in taking part, please email [email protected] or sign up at

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