Peter Holroyd has zero tolerance to sponge cake - or anything else that has the potentially deadly junk food mix of fat and sugar.
His reason for resisting all things gooey and sweet is his experience a year ago when he had a heart attack on the top of the South Downs, despite being an incredibly fit cyclist.
The 56-year-old later learned that his heart attack was caused by the cholesterol in his diet that led to a tiny blockage, just a couple of millimetres long, in an artery between his heart and his lungs that was starving his brain of oxygen. Instead, all the oxygen was going to Peter’s legs and he bolted up the Bo Peep Hill, above Alfriston, leaving his fellow cyclist far behind, only to keel over at the top.
Peter, who runs a gift shop called Vanilla in Hurstpierpoint High Street, was kept alive by his cycling friends who followed the telephone instructions of ambulance worker Caroline Booth, and maintained 37 minutes of exhausting chest compressions until voluntary first responder Colin Burden arrived with a defibrillator that shocked Peter’s heart back into life.
Now, after an operation to put a stent in his block artery, he is back in the saddle and determined to make a difference as well as avoid all the bad foods that caused his near-death experience.
Peter also held two evenings for nearly 40 people to learn how to do chest compressions (CPR) after he contacted Derek Middlehurst, senior team leader for South Mid Sussex Community First Responders to ask how he could raise awareness of CPR.
The evenings raises £400 and his partner, Cath’s Hurstpierpoint-based choir, Hobina, raise another £1,500 when they took part in the Brighton Fringe Festival.
Now, in addition, Burgess Hill District Lions Club has paid for a Public Access Defibrillator and cabinet for Hurstpierpoint, accessible 24 hours a day and sited outside Vanilla at 40 High Street, and other shopkeepers will be taught how to use it.
Some 12 staff at St Lawrence Primary School have also been trained.
For more information on training to use an AED or CPR, contact Derek Middlehurst on 07557 439395 or firstname.lastname@example.org