Regular Asda customer Tom Tweddle paid an emotional visit to our Boldon store to thank our amazing colleagues Helen Richardson and Linda Herd who saved his life by giving him CPR for 45 minutes after he'd stopped breathing.
Sixty-five-year-old Tom has since made a good recovery from the benign brain tumour that caused him to collapse and wanted to come in to see them as soon as he was well enough.
He said: "I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for Helen and Linda – I really owe my life to them.
"If I had been somewhere else other than Asda that day I might not be here now. I just wanted to personally thank Helen and Linda. Their quick thinking saved me. It's a credit to the store and to Asda that they have staff who were able to do what they did."
Tom was in the store's car park when he suddenly went numb on one side of his body. Knowing something was seriously wrong he asked a fellow shopper to call 999 and run into the store – where his wife Sue, who's a nurse, was shopping – to get help.
Security section leader Helen, who's got 30 years' experience as a first aider, ran outside and, with the help of front-end colleague Linda, took Tom to the first aid room, where his condition began to worsen.
Helen said: “All of a sudden he gasped and then the colour began to drain from his face and it went really a horrible grey colour and he stopped breathing. That's when I started to do mouth-to-mouth and CPR. I was on autopilot.
"Suddenly after about 45 minutes he just started breathing again. I couldn't believe it. I really thought we'd lost him, but I wasn't going to give up.
"I was absolutely shattered afterwards and my arms ached but, after Tom was taken to hospital by ambulance by the the paramedics, I went back to work."
Helen praised Linda for staying calm and keeping in contact with the ambulance service while relaying information to Tom's family.
Tom, who's had surgery on the tumour, remembers nothing of his ordeal. He said: "All I can remember is waking up in hospital with my family around me."
Helen, who's worked at the store for 19 years, said seeing Tom in the store again "'was the best feeling".
She said: "To see a guy who you thought wouldn't survive standing in front of you after working on him for so long is simply amazing. It's probably the best thing to have happened to me apart from my daughter being born."
Linda said: "It was just amazing seeing him back in the store. It was just brilliant. Both me and Helen had a cry."
Kim Davison, the store's deputy manager, said: "Everyone here is so very proud of the girls. They were absolutely fantastic. Tom really does own them his life. To do CPR for 45 minutes is remarkable."