Herby thanks heroes who saved his life

HUNDREDS of football fans may have seen him come close to death but today Herbert Cole couldn't be more full of life.

HUNDREDS of football fans may have seen him come close to death but today Herbert Cole couldn't be more full of life.

And the 86-year-old who was struck down by a double heart attack during Ipswich Town's game with Birmingham City on New Year's Day is also full of praise for the dedicated St John Ambulance volunteers who saved him.

From his bed in Ipswich Hospital where he is recovering from the brush with death, Mr Cole said: “They saved my life. They were completely wonderful.

“I have a season ticket at Portman Road with my friend and we got the train down, had lunch and then went to our seats high up in the Greene King stand.

“We saw all the players come out and that's all I remember. The next thing I knew I was waking up in hospital thinking 'this isn't the football ground'.

“I wasn't feeling at all ill beforehand so I had no idea it would happen.”

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Mr Cole, a widowed great-granddad from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, who has had a leaking heart valve for the last year, was saved by St John Ambulance volunteers who are at Portman Road for every game.

Yesterday was also the first time Mr Cole was visited by Ken Rogers, a friend who had travelled from Cambridgeshire with him to watch the game.

Mr Rogers, from March, said: “We sat down and said Happy New Year to people around us and then the game started. Soon after he leant on my shoulder and was having a heart attack.

“I called for stewards and they were marvellous. The people who were sat around us were asked to move and I was taken downstairs to have a cup of tea as I felt terrible.

“He was in the stands for about 20 minutes while his heart was got going again.”

Richard Cracknell, acting principal youth officer for the St Johns team and one of the first people to help Mr Cole when he collapsed on his friend's shoulder, said: “The fans themselves shouted over to us and we were nearby. It was important we could be there so quickly and help.

“Very often we do nothing through the whole match - something like this is a very rare event.”

Mr Cracknell and his team, including Pat Hicks and nurse Sarah Bates, worked with paramedics and used defibrillators to re-start Mr Cole's heart. He was then taken to Ipswich Hospital where he is recovering.

Mr Cole, who is known as Herby from his days as a centre forward playing for a club near Wisbech, is due to undergo more tests but he hopes to be out of hospital next week.

He said: “I'm looking forward to getting back to watching football again and I know I was lucky to have a heart attack at the ground because the amazing staff were so close by.

“But hopefully it won't happen again.”