When regular customer Michael Howard suddenly stopped swimming lifeguards Chloe Heslop and Jess Shallow raised the alarm and using their training quickly removed him from the pool. Initial checks showed Michael had stopped breathing and lifeguard Andrew Wright started CPR.

The support team, Paul Arkle and Stephen Shotten arrived on poolside with a defibrillator and successfully delivered a shock which restarted Michael’s heart and he began breathing again. Team member Abigail Hauxwell called the ambulance and Operations Manager Shaun McGuiness co-ordinated with the ambulance as staff continued to monitor Michael until the crew arrived.

Michael was then taken to the ICU at the University Hospital of Durham where his condition remained stable. He was later transferred to the specialist heart unit at the James Cook hospital. Michael is now home and recovering well. He said: “I cannot thank the team at Freeman’s Quay enough, without their quick thinking and excellent lifesaving skills I would not be here today. Every surgeon and consultant I have seen since the incident has said without them I would not have made it.”

Sharron Thompson, Approved Training Centre Co-ordinator, said: “Without the quick reactions and training of the staff this incident could have been very different. We are extremely proud of the team at Freeman’s Quay Leisure Centre and this incident highlights how important it is to undertake regular staff training.”

Kay Smith, Centre Manager at Freeman’s Quay Leisure Centre, said: “After the incident, Claire Howard, Michael’s wife came into the centre to thank all the team in person. She brought in a beautiful thank you card acknowledging the teams amazing efforts.”