West Boldon resident Tom Tweddle was in the car park of Asda in Boldon when he suddenly began to experience a seizure.
Knowing that something was seriously wrong, the 65-year-old alerted a fellow shopper to get a member of staff and call an ambulance.
“I ran outside and he was complaining that he had numbness down one side of his body, so my first thought was that it was a stroke,” said Asda security section leader, Helen Richardson.
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Her colleague, service section leader Linda Herd, ran to get the store defibrillator and Tom was taken to the first aid room but his condition continued to deteriorate.
“All of a sudden I saw the colour drain from his face and he went this horrible grey colour, and that’s when I started doing mouth to mouth and CPR,” continued Helen, an advanced First Aider with around 30 years experience.
“You don’t think, you just go into autopilot.”
The pair fought to resuscitate Tom while they waited for the ambulance to arrive, until he eventually began to breathe on his own again.
After surgery for what turned out to be a benign brain tumour, Tom has returned to full strength and has been back to the store to thank Helen and Linda in person for saving his life on on Friday, July 26.
“I was always brought up to believe that actions speak louder than words, but I could never have the words to thank them for what they did, for their actions,” said Tom.
“I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for them, I owe my life to these two ladies.”
Helen added: “It was the worst CPR I’ve ever had to do, we never expected to see him standing in front of us.
Linda said: “You only think you’re going to be sticking plasters on people, you don’t expect anything like that to happen in store.
“The first time he came in we just cried, it was so emotional.
“We just hope he continues with a great recovery and has a lot more years to give.”