A MAN from Eastleigh has thanked the "amazing" air ambulance team that saved his life when he "turned blue" after a heart attack.

Gary, 56, says he will be forever grateful to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance charity.

He suffered a cardiac arrest while on holiday on the Isle of Wight with his wife, Penny, back in July.

When they stopped for some lunch with their two friends in Godshill, Gary collapsed to the floor and went into cardiac arrest.

“He was turning blue and we couldn’t find a pulse – it was very frightening,” recalls Penny.

One of their friend’s commenced CPR, but there was no sign of Gary responding.

Two nurses who happened to be in the pub and saw the commotion rushed to Gary’s side and took over CPR.

“We were shouting for him to come back and that he couldn’t die now,” says Penny. “But it was just a losing battle. It was so scary. There was nothing more that she (the nurse) could do.”

Moments later, paramedics and doctors from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance arrived on scene.

“They were amazing – so calm and professional. And they kept me informed of everything they were doing to Gary.”

The team took over CPR and loaded Gary onto the helicopter before flying him to University Hospital Southampton.

Five weeks later, he was released from hospital with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted, in case of similar incidents in future.

“Without them, I wouldn't be here today,” says Gary, “there's no way I would have survived.”

The charity has just launched its Christmas appeal.

CEO, Richard Corbett, said, “We don’t stop for Christmas. You will still hear us flying overhead responding to patients just like Gary who are in a critical, life-threatening condition.

"The support we have received over the years and throughout the past 18 months in particular has been simply incredible. And it is because of that support that many of our patients are able to celebrate Christmas this year.”

HIOWAA responded to 134 potentially life-saving call-outs last December, including five on Christmas day, and experienced its busiest month of the year so far in October, responding to 146 call-outs.

Supporters can donate at www.hiowaa.org/Christmas.