Town centre hero saved the life of choking pensioner

Kirkby's Joan Duncombe with her saviour Adam Varnam.
Kirkby's Joan Duncombe with her saviour Adam Varnam.

A quick-thinking member of the public has been hailed a hero after saving the life of a frail pensioner in a Kirkby coffee shop when she almost choked on her piece of food.

Frail Joan Duncombe stopped breathing, her eyes rolled in her head and her lips turned blue after a chip became lodged in her throat in the Coffee ‘N ‘Cream on The Precinct.

But amid the panic, Adam Varnam took control of the situation as he grabbed the elderly woman and performed abdominal thrusts, eventually dislodging the food.

She was eventually taken to hospital by ambulance and later released with no lasting damage, Mrs Duncombe’s best friend, Diane Bradbury - who had been in the cafe with her at the time - said: “There’s no doubt about it, he saved her life. He is my hero.

“Had it not been for him I would have lost my best friend.

“She just started coughing so I started patting her on the back, and she couldn’t breathe in - the next minute she stopped breathing and her eyes were rolling.

“The next thing Adam came running over from the other end of the cafe and did abdominal thrusts.

“If it wasn’t for him, she would have been gone. I just panicked and didn’t know what to do.

“It all happened in about two or three minutes.

“I’m so grateful and proud of Adam. He even sat with her until the ambulance came. I can’t thank him enough.

“He was on a day off and was with his pregnant wife.”

Adam, 28, from Kirkby said: “I saw people patting her on the back but I knew it wasn’t going to help.

“I picked up her up and did a few abdominal thrusts and she dislodged the food, and on the fourth attempt she came round. It feels amazing to have been able to help.”

Commonly known as the Heimlich manoeuvre, abdominal thrusts can be used to help dislodge food in a person’s throat which is causing them to choke.

Locking your arms around a patient from behind and thrusting them upwards, it will cause the food to become dislodged.

Adam, who has been first aid trained as part of his job at Curry’s PC World in Newark, said: “Everybody was stood there shocked in the cafe, they didn’t know what to do.

“But this is something I think everybody should be trained to do.”