Pensioner saves his own life after taking medical course to save wife


PENSIONER Neil Dingwall loves his wife’s cooking so much he took a heart attack survival course to keep her alive should the worst happen.

And four weeks later the training proved a life-saver – when Neil himself collapsed with a heart attack.

The 70-year-old realised what was happening and took immediate action that he swears kept him alive to carry on enjoying wife Phyllis’s culinary creations.

Neil couldn't bear to think of living without his wife's cooking
Neil couldn’t bear to think of living without his wife’s cooking



Now the retired oil and gas fitter is encouraging as many people as possible to attend NHS courses so they too might save a life, even if it’s their own.

Neil, who lives in Balmullo, near St Andrews, Fife, has been enjoying his wife’s cooking for 48 years.

Her hearty home classics such as mince and potatoes, pork chops and traditional Sunday roasts are to die for, according to Neil.

The father of two admits he can’t cook and signed up for the Headstart heart attack survival course to have the best chance of keeping 69-year-old Phyllis alive.

He said: “I didn’t take the course for me, it was for my wife. She is one hell of a cook and if something happened to her who was going to cook for me?”

Neil took the course at the end of July and a month later – despite feeling “fit as a fiddle” – had a heart attack while at home.

“I’m 70 but I have the body of a 50-year-old,” he said.

“It was really unexpected. I never eat anything that’s not healthy and I’m out walking and in the garden all the time.

“It was a scary experience but I remained calm. We were about to head out the door and I felt a dull pain in my chest. Then I began to get agitated and was sick, and that’s when I told Phyllis to call for an ambulance.

“If I hadn’t taken the course it would have turned out a lot worse. I’m the kind of guy who won’t cause a fuss, but in this case I knew something was wrong.

“The course only took two hours but it saved my life. Neither myself or Phyllis have ever been ill – we’re like a couple of old war horses.”

Neil, who describes himself as a “glass half full kind of guy”, believes the heart attack was a hereditary condition from his mother’s side of the family – and nothing to do with Phyliss’s cooking..

Ominously, just three days before the attack, his 5-year-old granddaughter, Isla, had said to him: “You’re going to heaven soon because you’re a grandad now.”

Neil said: “It was all I could think about in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I thought I was on my way out.

“My family are so relieved that I had taken the course and was able to diagnose myself.”

Despite his brush with death, Neil, who is recovering well from his ordeal, is enjoying Phyllis’ food as much as ever. “I haven’t changed anything about my diet,” he said. “Her cooking was not a factor at all.”

Phyllis said: “Neil loves his food. We’re both very healthy and this came as a big shock.

“It was so fortunate that he had gone on the course and knew what was happening to him.”

The NHS Headstart courses take only two hours and teach students the symptoms of heart attacks and what to do.