Cricket man’s life is saved by leisure centre staff

Merv Williams thanks staff and walking cricket teammates who saved his life at Hucknall Leisure Centre. He is pictured presenting flowers to operations manager Emma Smithurst. (PHOTO BY: Brian Eyre)
Merv Williams thanks staff and walking cricket teammates who saved his life at Hucknall Leisure Centre. He is pictured presenting flowers to operations manager Emma Smithurst. (PHOTO BY: Brian Eyre)

Quick-thinking staff at Hucknall Leisure Centre saved a man’s life after he collapsed while playing walking cricket.

Merv Williams, 69, was enjoying his usual weekly game at the Linby Road centre with an over-50s’ team from Hucknall when he suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest and slumped to the floor.

Merv Williams presents flowers to Hucknall Leisure Centre operations manager Emma Smithurst, who helped to save his life.

Merv Williams presents flowers to Hucknall Leisure Centre operations manager Emma Smithurst, who helped to save his life.

But after teammates had raised the alarm, general manager Deanna Housley and operations manager Emma Smithurst leapt into action.

Performing CPR and grabbing the centre’s defibrillator, they brought him round, and an ambulance rushed him to hospital, where he spent a week recovering.

Now he is back at his Eastwood home and full of praise for how the emergency was handled.

“It was a sudden death,” Merv admitted. “My heart had stopped pumping, and had I been at home or anywhere else, I would have been dead.

“I went dizzy and was just about to say I didn’t feel too good when everything went black and bang, I was down.

“Thank goodness I was in a place where they had a defibrillator, and the staff knew how to use it.”

A keen sportsman, Merv used to jointly own the Demerva Sports shops in Bulwell, Eastwood and Alfreton during the 1980s and 1990s.

He has been told to rest for six weeks, but is planning to start playing walking cricket again, and this week he went back to the centre to thank the staff and his teammates for their heroics.

The team’s organiser, 72-year-old Pete Stevenson, of Hucknall, said: “It really shook some of us up.

“Merv was probably the fittest player amongst us. But without the defibrillator, he would have gone. We are so relieved it ended well.”

THIS was the first time Hucknall Leisure Centre has had to use its defibrillator since it was installed five years ago, but general manager Deanna Housley admitted it was “a godsend”.

She said: “I think it was the defibrillator that saved Merv. It is amazing and so easy to use. I fetched it because I could see the panic on everyone’s faces. I realised he wasn’t breathing and then your training kicks in.

“It was over in a flash, but I am so pleased there has been a positive outcome. All the team pulled together -- myself, Emma and the lifeguards, who consoled the cricketers. It was a team effort.”