Quick-thinking Tesco staff save Corby poppy seller’s life

Georgina and Alan with the life-saving defibrillator.

Georgina and Alan with the life-saving defibrillator.

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A Corby poppy seller has been reunited with the woman who saved his life after he suffered a heart attack.

Alan Edwards, 73, fell ill in the town’s Tesco Extra while volunteering for the Royal British Legion on November 4.

Alan being presented with his TV by Tesco community champion Mick Brown (left) and Cliff Morton, from The Charity Pot.

Alan being presented with his TV by Tesco community champion Mick Brown (left) and Cliff Morton, from The Charity Pot.

But when it would have been easy to panic, service manager Georgina Knibbs used the store’s defibrillator to bring him round.

Mr Edwards, who started selling poppies after his son Stephen was killed in Basra in 2007, says Georgina’s actions undoubtedly saved his life.

He said: “I remember going to the opticians, then coming back [to Tesco] again and sitting down and that’s the last thing I remember.

“Next thing I know, I’m in hospital.

Georgina is given flowers by Alan and his wife Janet.

Georgina is given flowers by Alan and his wife Janet.

“I can’t thank Georgie enough, she saved my life.

“If it hadn’t been for her quick thinking and doing what she did, I would have been out of it.”

Mr Edwards, who lived in Thrapston for more than 30 years with his wife Janet before moving to Corby, spent weeks in hospital before returning home.

Mrs Knibbs, 27, had never used the defibrillator before.

She said: “I had just sat down to a jacket potato when I got a call from another manager asking me to come down as someone had hit the deck.

“When I came around the corner Alan was on the floor and a colour I’d never seen in my life.

“I ran to get the defibrillator with Steve [Fairbrother, store manager]. The whole thing was a bit of a blur but we did what anyone would have done.

“We’ve seen the DVD that came with the defibrillator but I’d never had to physically use one.

“We only got the kit this year but thank God we had one.

“I would urge any big store to make sure they have one as you never know when you might need it.”

Mr Fairbrother, 48, said: “Alan is housebound for a bit and can’t get out very far so kindly with support from Corby charity The Charity Pot we’re giving him a PlayStation and a TV.

“Hopefully he can spend some time at home relaxing with the grandchildren.

“It’s a massive team effort to support Alan and get him back to full fitness.

“I managed to get him in the recovery position and thankfully within a minute or two Georgie was there.

“The speed of her reactions has definitely saved Alan’s life.”

Mr and Mrs Edwards have become known as the ‘golden couple’ locally for their dedication to fundraising for the RBL in the Tesco store since it opened in 2013.

Corby’s Royal British Legion branch vice-chairman Liz Harries praised Mrs Knibbs’ quick thinking and says she’s looking forward to seeing the couple fundraising again soon.

She said: “We’ve always nicknamed Mr and Mrs Edwards our golden couple as they never let us down and are always there.

“We couldn’t believe what happened, it was absolutely heartbreaking for all of us because they’re such a special part of our team.

“Tesco have been so caring and we can never thank them enough.

“We’re so pleased that Alan is recovering and next year they will still be in Tesco and still be collecting so we’re very proud of him.

“We must say thank you to everyone who helped out.”

Mr Edwards’ other son, Paul Edwards, also heaped praise on the actions of East Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics.

He said: “The way we were transferred was fantastic.

“In just under 45 minutes he [Alan] was in the hospital.

“He was kept in ICU for four-and-a-half weeks and they were outstanding from start to finish.”