A pensioner who collapsed with a heart attack at a shopping centre yesterday met the good samaritan shoppers who saved his life.
Ronald Hawkins, aged 80, had gone to Touchwood in Solihull to meet his daughter when he collapsed on April 13.
The war veteran, who served in the Navy, was one of the first people in Britain to have his life saved as a result of the Public Access Defibrillation Scheme.
Shopping centre bosses installed three automated external defibrillators, which use an electrical current to shock the heart back to a regular rhythm, and trained a dozen members of staff to use them in June 2005.
Mr Hawkins, who lives in Birmingham, said: "I'd gone to Touchwood with my son-inlaw to meet my daughter, as we were going to drive down to Swanage, in Dorset, for the weekend, but we never made it because I collapsed.
"I can't really remember much about what happened, it was all very quick, but I was told later that I'd gone down hard and cracked my head open.
"I understand the reason I'm still here is due to two doctors who were in the shopping centre at the time, and the fact they were able to revive me and get me to hospital.
"Although I don't remember what happened, I wanted to thank everyone who came to my aid because I can't get over the fact I'm still here."
Two off-duty doctors who were at Touchwood at the time were called on by other shop-pers to help resuscitate Mr Hawkins.
Dr Chris Stockdale, a retired GP and part-time ear, nose and throat surgeon at Heartlands Hospital, was relaxing with a cup of coffee when he was asked to help.
He said: "The gentleman looked awful when I first saw him, I thought he was already dead because his skin was almost purple, there was a growing pool of blood around his head and he looked lifeless.
"I told someone to call an ambulance and checked Ron before moving him onto his back to try and resuscitate him.
"Another doctor had been found by now and we were both trying to revive him, but it wasn't looking very good.
"Then two Touchwood staff arrived with a defibrillator and we attached the pads to his chest and followed the instructions.
"Then it was as if a miracle had occurred because he went from being blue and pulseless to being pink. It was quite amazing because so often in medicine resuscitation fails."
Mr Hawkins spent nearly three months at Heartlands and the Queen Elizabeth hospitals in Birmingham, where he underwent a double heart bypass.
Dr Stockdale added: "There's no doubt in my mind that this equipment saved his life.
"It made a world of difference in this situation, but the benefits of these defibrillators aren't just for places like Touchwood, they could be vital resources for small villages and rural areas as well."
The Public Access Defibrillation Scheme is part of a unique partnership between Touchwood, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and the British Heart Foundation, the first commercial venture of its kind.
Andrew Parkinson, Touch-wood's general manager, said: "It's very rewarding to be pioneering a scheme to help save lives and even more rewarding to meet Mr Hawkins and see that the scheme is already making a difference in our local community."
Rob Cole, community defibrillation officer for WMAS, said: "Over two thirds of cardiac arrests in the UK happen out of hospital and only two per cent of victims normally survive, so a speedy response is crucial and performing resuscitation can double a person's chances of survival."