Santa saves life at Christmas party

Date Released - 12/12/2022

FATHER Christmas is used to handing out presents but for 81-year-old Tom Webster from Hyde he quite literally gave the gift of life.


Tom was attending the Denton North East Christmas Party arranged by local councillors at Denton Festival Hall when he collapsed in a suspected respiratory arrest.


Fortunately John Gilmour, who was volunteering at the event as Santa, also happens to be a former A&E nurse and first aider and was immediately on hand to help.


John, from Ashton, who runs Lifeline Community Ambulance Community Interest Company, said: “I was on my way into the party dressed as Santa to hand out presents when someone who knew I did first aid grabbed me and took me over to Tom who had just collapsed over a fellow guest.


“Tom was unconscious and not breathing so straight away myself and my fellow first aider Penny Brooks got him into position and we carried out CPR.


“After a time he regained consciousness, which was just a fantastic feeling to see him recovering.


“Amazingly his first response when he saw Santa leaning over him on the ground was to ask ‘where’s my present?’!


“It was brilliant to see that despite his disorientation he felt well enough to have a sense of humour and also such a relief to see him breathing and talking.


“I’ve given CPR before but this is the first time dressed as Santa – it was most definitely a unique and unexpected experience. I’m just pleased Tom is all right now and I would also like to thank Penny and the rest of the team of first aid volunteers who were also hand to help.”


Tom was taken by ambulance to hospital and was kept in for a couple of days for observation but is now recovering back home with his wife, Ann.


The retired planning engineer said: “I don’t remember very much about what happened but I used to be a first aider at work so I know what it takes to have to stay calm in a crisis so my thanks goes to John and the team.


“I had a stroke earlier in the year, which affected my mobility, we’re not sure if this was linked but I’m having more tests.


“All I want for Christmas now is to stay alive – and I’m very grateful to Santa for getting me this far!”


Tameside Council Executive Member and Denton ward member Cllr Denise Ward, who helped to organise the Christmas Party said: “I’m so glad this Christmas story had a happy ending and Tom is safe and well back home with his family. A very big thank you our Santa, John, and the team for stepping in to give life saving first aid –  it is the best Christmas present anyone could give in this situation and I am full of admiration and appreciation.”