Ten years ago Sean Doyle collapsed doing the parkrun in Greenhead Park after suffering a cardiac arrest.
He was lucky to survive but he did, has returned to running and has just notched up his 300th parkrun.
To mark the decade Sean is doing a sponsored parkrun on Saturday, May 13, for Heart Research UK and the people who saved his life that fateful day will be there to celebrate the anniversary.
Sean, 55, said: “Ten years ago I was saved by CPR in the park. I’ve had 10 extra years of life thanks to my heroes on the day and the equipment available at the time.”
Sean was doing only his sixth 5km parkrun when a blocked artery caused a heart attack which led to a sudden cardiac arrest in May 2013.
By sheer good luck his GP, Dr Emma Spencer, was running that morning, as was nurse Dinah Coggon. They performed CPR and West Yorkshire Ambulance Service first responder Kate Young used a defibrillator on Sean until paramedics arrived to take him to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
In the ambulance Sean suffered a second cardiac arrest and was put into an induced coma when he arrived at the hospital. He spent 36 hours in the coma and was given only a 6% chance of survival so after pulling through he became known as the ‘miracle man.’
Holmfirth GP Emma admitted at the time she hadn’t expected Sean to survive.
“He came down the steps and collapsed,” she said. “He’d stopped breathing so we started CPR. Five or six of us were doing CPR. We took it in turns because it is really tiring.”
She added: “Sean is amazing. At the time I didn’t think it was going to be good.”
Both Emma and Dinah will be at the parkrun this May along with several of Sean’s running friends.
Sean had a stent fitted to improve blood flow to his heart and within a week he was allowed to go home.
Sean said: “If I hadn’t been at that park on that day, with those people, I wouldn’t be here. Things are meant to be for a reason and I can’t thank them enough for saving my life.”
Sean didn’t want to give up running but realised he might have to scale down his expectations.
He said: “Running is my way of escaping, but obviously you’ve got to listen to the advice you’re given. I was walking within a week and tried to do as much as I could, maybe a four or five-mile route every day.”
He was helped back to fitness by cardiac rehabilitation. At first his activities were restricted to those that kept his heart rate low, such as gentle step-ups. Running was not permitted but 12 weeks later Sean had a stress test – also known as an exercise ECG – and his doctor was pleased with the results.
Sean said: “The consultant said there was no reason why I shouldn’t go back to running but he said no more marathons, no more personal bests, no more than 40 miles a week and don’t get your heart rate above 135bpm. I bargained him up to 140bpm!”
Sean rejoined his running club, Holmfirth Harriers, and has gone on to do another 294 parkruns with his average time for the 5km just over 22 minutes.
He said: “I’ve been doing the Parkrun religiously, but my wife Helen made me walk the first one. That got my worst time ever, but we did a collection and raised £700.”
The money helped buy a defibrillator for Greenhead Park.
Sean and Helen live in Brockholes and have two grown-up children, Katie, 23, and 19-year-old Oliver.
Katie is a hairdresser based at The Mensroom in Thongsbridge while Oliver is a chef at Ten Fourteen Steakhouse Grill on Dunford Road in Holmfirth.
Sean has done a few 10km runs since his cardiac arrest, including one to raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and another for Kirkwood Hospice. He’s also raised money for the British Heart Foundation over the years
Since his cardiac arrest he’s clocked up 17,000 miles and is now running seven miles a day and also works out at Unit Fitness gym in Honley.
His personal best for the 5km parkrun is 20 minutes and 14 seconds and his best 10-mile time is 71 minutes and 21 seconds.
Sean is an ambassador for global group Cardiac Athletes and has been a medtronic global champion and ambassador. Medtronic Global Champions recognises athletes from around the world who have persevered through life-changing medical conditions and have returned to active life with the help of medical technology and expertise to inspire others.
Sean is a water treatment chemist and now works as an account manager for global ecological company Veolia. He worked for chemical giant Syngenta from 1985 to 2001 and then at Huddersfield engineering firm Thomas Broadbent and Sons for 10 years.
He is also a professional photographer (https://sjdelphoto.com/) specialising in sports, events and landscapes and is also Huddersfield Hub’s photographer.
To support Sean go to his JustGiving page HERE.
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting