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Hockey player Harry Pickering has life saved after heart attack by Clive Garton during match between Gore Court and Antique Team

By Tim Collins

A veteran hockey player who suffered a heart attack on the pitch has praised the opposition player who saved his life.

Harry Pickering was leading the Antique Team from Ashford Hockey Club, so named as they are formed mainly of older players, against top of the league side Gore Court (GC) at home in Sittingbourne.

The 70-year-old collapsed within the first two minutes of the match, held at Westlands School in Westland Avenue.

Harry Pickering and wife Karen on holiday

But swift action from the rival goalie and others ensured Mr Pickering was kept alive until medical assistance could arrive.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Pickering said: “I’m not usually an emotional person, but the whole thing has left me very emotional.

“It’s hit me really hard, and I realise that this could have been it for me. I owe this man my life.”

Sergeant Clive Garton, an off-duty policeman, administered CPR to the Ashford captain while umpire Andy Elgar called for an ambulance - which arrived just eight minutes later.

Mr Elgar’s wife Cathie, the GC team’s welfare officer who was supporting from the sideline, also helped in the first aid.

A number of Mr Pickering’s ribs were broken in the process, but the vigorous action taken by Sgt Garton is sure to have saved the Ashford skipper’s life.

Harry Pickering, who collapsed on the pitch, in action playing hockey

Mr Pickering is a long-standing member of a number of sports clubs, lives a healthy lifestyle and plays a number of sports, including golf, cricket and hockey.

His wife Karen said he is the last person she would expect to suffer a cardiac arrest.

Speaking from their home in West Brabourne she added: “I was actually playing golf when my mobile rang and they told me what had happened.

“When they said ‘Harry’s had a heart attack’ I couldn’t believe it. He doesn’t smoke, he barely drinks and he’s so fit and active. I suppose it shows that it can happen to anyone.

“The man who resuscitated him was very strong and he did crack a couple of his ribs. But it’s such a small price to pay for having saved his life.”

Sgt Clive Garton, who is based at Sittingbourne police station, was off-duty and playing in goal for Gore Court Men’s 6th team when he saw Harry collapse.

The 52-year-old married dad of three, who trained as police medic, said: “I suppose it was a case of right time, right place.

Harry Pickering, with his wife Karen at his hospital bedside
Off duty police officer Clive Garton, pictured with his son Kane, 15

“I was at the other end of the pitch. The game had just started, it was about a minute and a half in, when I saw this guy keel over at the other end.

“I knew he was immediately he was in trouble so I sprinted over.

“He was going blue in the face and within 30 seconds he had stopped breathing.

“He was a big chap so I had to give him CPR quite deep so I was really working on him.

“It’s hit me really hard, and I realise that this could have been it for me. I owe this man my life” - Harry Pickering

“After about four or five minutes the paramedics turned up and we were working together. He was shocked twice then on the third time he started to come round. He was gone for about 10 minutes.

“I knew that I could give Harry a chance if I got there quickly enough and worked hard enough. I’m just so glad for his wife and his children, if he has any, that he is still about.

“I plan to meet him at some point.

What do you think? Write to Kentish Express, 34-36 North Street, Ashford TN24 8JR or email kentishexpress@thekmgroup.co.uk

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