A STAFF member at Chepstow Leisure Centre who saved a man’s life earlier this year has received a special award from the high sheriff of Gwent.

Duncan Thompson used an on-site defibrillator to revive Paul Kelley, who suffered cardiac arrest while playing five-a-side football at the leisure centre on June 26.

Thanks to Mr Thompson’s actions, Mr Kelley regained consciousness and was talking by the time the paramedics arrived to take him to hospital.

On Monday, October 22, Sharon Linnard presented Mr Thompson with the high sheriff’s award in recognition of his life-saving actions.

“Duncan is passionate about working in the community and for the local community, and he is a self-confessed ‘first-aid geek’,” Mrs Linnard said to a proud audience of Mr Thompson’s colleagues and friends.

Speaking after he received his award, Mr Thompson said: “I feel very honoured and touched, but also a little bit guilty, because it’s very much a team effort here.”

The high sheriff also commended Mr Thompson for his wider work in the community helping teach people first aid and to be aware of the risks of drowning.

With the Royal Life Saving Society and firefighters from Chepstow, Mr Thompson has been running activities as part of Drowning Prevention Week, each June, for the past few years.

These activities include water-safety themed swimming lessons for schoolchildren, and putting on real-life fire drills and life-saving demonstrations at the leisure centre.

The leisure centre team has also installed safety equipment along the banks of the River Wye in Chepstow.

Fire crew manager Paul Beynon said: “We try to get the message out with our interactive sessions and demonstrations, but if it wasn’t for [Mr Thompson’s] enthusiasm, we wouldn’t get it done.

“He’s so passionate about it, and he makes my job a hell of a lot easier.”

Mr Thompson hopes his actions will encourage others to pick up a defibrillator, which are available in public places across Wales, if they see somebody suffering cardiac arrest.

“Don’t be afraid to use them,” he said. “They’re idiot-proof, the machines even talk you through what to do.

“Using one can increase the chances of survival by 70 per cent.”

For more information about publicly-accessible defibrillators and training courses, consult the Welsh Ambulance Services PADS (Public Access Defibrillator Scheme) online.