30th Jun, 2022

Coventry University professor whose heart stopped in supermarket to raise funds for life-savers

A COVENTRY University professor whose heart stopped when he was out shopping is lacing up his trainers to give something back to the medics and passers-by who saved his life.

Ralph Kenna, 53, is taking part in the Rugby Half Marathon this weekend to thank the people who came to his aid when he suffered a cardiac arrest in August last year.

Ralph, who lives in Rugby, was in the middle of a routine shop at his local supermarket when his heart suddenly stopped and he collapsed.

Two local men who happened to be passing by – Alex Tilley and Ben Beckwith – gave him CPR while others rallied round to help.

A crew from the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance then came to his rescue, putting him into an induced coma before he was driven to University Hospital Coventry.

Ralph was in a coma for four days and spent seven weeks in hospital. It was six months before he was well enough to return to work.

Deciding he wanted to give something back, Ralph is taking on the marathon to raise money for the Air Ambulance.

He is still in touch with Alex and Ben, and says he will be forever grateful for what they did.

He also expressed his gratitude to the local police and land ambulance crew, who all played a role in saving his life.

He said: “The people of Rugby rallied round when I needed help. To say thank you I want to raise funds for the local air ambulance as it is there for us all and saves lives in the area every day.”

Ralph describes himself as “always having been very health conscious” and had taken part in half marathons before his cardiac arrest.

Since being discharged from hospital he has been running regularly, slowly building up his distance to 13 miles.

“What happened to me was completely random,” he said. “I am an ordinary person, it was an ordinary day and I am very fit – so if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone.

“I want to raise awareness of the local Air Ambulance and the importance of the service it provides, which is not government funded.

“The cost of each mission they fly is £1,700 so that is my fundraising target – and a small gesture of thanks to kind people everywhere.”

The Rugby Half Marathon takes place on Sunday (October 28). Visit www.theraceorganiser.com/listed-races/rugby-half-marathon for more information. Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ralph-kenna to sponsor Ralph.

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