Hipperholme boy who saved dad’s life after sudden cardiac arrest receives national charity award

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A brave schoolboy who helped save his dad’s life has received a prestigious charity award.

Henry Collett, from Hipperholme, has been honoured with an award from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) after coming to the aid of dad Jules.

The father and son were out on a run in March this year when Jules had a cardiac arrest.

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This meant his heart suddenly stopped pumping blood around his body, causing him to fall unconscious and stop breathing.

Henry and Jules.Henry and Jules.
Henry and Jules.

“We were about to set off from the top of the hill when my dad looked at me, said ‘I don’t feel so good’ and then fell,” recalled Henry, aged 13.

“I went over to him and he was breathing really weird – it sounded like he was taking too long to take another breath. I used my dad’s phone to call 999, told them where I was and they told me to start CPR.

“What went through my head was - what you do in the next 10 minutes could save him. I’m just a child and I need my Dad to be around, so I knew I had to do something.”

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Luckily, Henry had learned CPR at Hipperholme Grammar School and at Sea Cadets.

He began applying chest compressions before getting the attention of a passer-by. They took over CPR whilst Henry rushed to the nearby rugby club to retrieve a defibrillator.

Whilst heading to get the life saving device, an ambulance arrived, followed swiftly by a second and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who had a doctor on board. Paramedics were able to take over CPR and use a defibrillator to shock Jules’ heart.

Jules, aged 56, added: “I was told that Henry acted very fast and was in control of the situation.

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“When he rang his mum up, he didn’t tell her what had really happened because he didn’t want to upset her. He wanted her to remain calm so she was able to get to the scene without too much panic.”

Jules was taken to hospital by ambulance and placed in intensive care. He remained in an induced coma for six days, and regained consciousness two days later.

“I was so happy when dad woke up,” said Henry.

“At one point I didn’t think he was going to make it, then suddenly, I’m told he’s awake. My mum was contacted by the hospital to advise he was being woken up and I sent her a message to pass on to him. She wasn’t allowed to go due to Covid but the hospital allowed us to Facetime him once he was awake. When I saw him, I just said how happy I was to see him.”

Whilst in hospital, Jules was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). This device, which is placed under the skin, sends electrical pulses to regulate abnormal heart rhythms, especially those that could be dangerous and cause a cardiac arrest.

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Now, several months after the cardiac arrest, Jules is back on his feet and has taken up walking, jogging and cycling with his son. He credits Henry for saving his life.

Jules said: “It’s truly amazing what Henry did that day.

“We were out in the middle of nowhere, but Henry stayed calm and kept a level head. For someone his age to do that is incredible.

“I’m alive because of Henry, and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. It’s a very poignant thing to sit and understand that your son has saved your life. I’m just so incredibly proud of him.”

Henry’s life saving actions were recognised with a CPR Hero Award at the BHF’s virtual Heart Hero Awards, held on Wednesday 29th September.

“It feels amazing to win this award,” said Henry.

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“CPR is so important to me because without it, my dad wouldn’t be here now. Everyone should learn CPR, as you never know when you might need to use it.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “We are just so proud to recognise Henry with this award honouring his truly life saving actions.

“It is also a powerful reminder of why CPR skills are so important for all of us. For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest out of hospital falls by a devastating 10 per cent.

“The most important thing to remember is that you must act when someone suffers a cardiac arrest. Call 999, start CPR immediately, and ask someone to bring the nearest defibrillator if one is close by. These simple actions could help save a life.”

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The BHF’s Heart Hero Awards are held each year to recognise the brave individuals dedicated to help beat heartbreak forever. The event showcases inspiring people who have shown courage, resilience, compassion and bravery in the face of adversity, and this year included appearances from celebrity guests including host Vernon Kay.