Fairhurst's incredible journey from the brink of death to Halifax seniors golf title

Just a year ago Halifax Bradley Hall’s Jim Fairhurst had to be revived twice by his cardioverter defibrillator implant after being taken ill while playing golf, writes Christopher Stratford.

By Mark Berry
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 8:59 am
Jim Fairhurst
Jim Fairhurst

Now the 59-year-old is celebrating winning the seniors stroke play championship of the Halifax, Huddersfield and District Union of Golf Clubs twice following a four-over-par 70 at Elland.

The Halifax Bradley Hall player has a perfect record in the competition, the global pandemic and then his health issues denying him the chance to defend the championship he won in 2019, the first year he was eligible to play in it at 55.

In between those two contests, he underwent a battle to save his life when cardiac problems - that saw him given an implantable cardioverter defibrillator 14 years ago - resurfaced after more than a decade of good health.

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“In 2008 I had a cardiac arrest, but the drugs and the device were working fine. Then last April, I was playing golf and had a funny feeling that something wasn’t right,” said Fairhurst, who won by four shots at Elland from Paul Booth, of Crosland Heath.

“I had a heart beat of 178. My wife called the ambulance, they came, took me into Halifax A&E, and I was in the crash room and my device actually had to go off twice in the ward to save my life and, obviously, I wasn’t in a good position.

“I had another incident in the ward overnight when my blood pressure dropped very low, my heart stopped, the device kicked in again and got me back okay. Then they rushed me over to Leeds in an ambulance where they tried to shock me again twice, once with my own defib and once with an external defib.”

The following morning he underwent an ablation, a procedure to treat atrial fibrillation by using small burns or freezes to cause scarring on the inside of the heart, which helps break up the electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeats.

Within a month he was back playing and although he had a further scare while playing Elland, which he had joined in addition to Bradley Hall as it is close to home and he was temporarily unable to drive, a combination of drugs plus the cardioverter defibrillator and a pacemaker help him manage his condition, idiopathic ventricular tachycardia.

“The drugs were a little bit iffy at first, but I’ve been put back on the drugs that I was on originally and now everything is okay, touch wood,” beamed Fairhurst, who with clubmates Andy Whitworth and David Whitaker helped Bradley Hall lift the Geoffrey Horrocks-Taylor Trophy for the best three-man aggregate. Whitworth, himself twice a past seniors champion, and Whitaker each carded 77.

Nett champion was Phil Smith, of Bradley Park with 66, one ahead of Crow Nest Park’s Tony Ludlow–Green.

Smith’s clubmate Andy Bemrose shot 67 for the best score in the 55-64 age group, one better than the host club’s Michael Kenny, who produced the best nett score for 65s and over.

Fairhurst said of his winning round: “I didn’t play the front nine very well, three over, but I played the back nine in one over, so that was okay. I had just the one birdie.”