A Dorset man who suffered a cardiac arrest at sea is set to complete a prominent cycle ride to raise money for the vital service that helped to save his life.

Stuart Pearce, 67, from Drimpton was out water-skiing with friends in Devon five years ago when his heart stopped, and he eventually had to be airlifted to hospital.

He is now looking to repay the cost of the air ambulance call-out of approximately £3,500 by taking part in the 55-mile Coast to Coast challenge – an annual cycle ride organised by the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

 He is hoping to fundraise alongside his friend Paul Clements ‘both to repay his debt and to cover the cost of a trip for somebody else.’

When Stuart went into cardiac arrest whilst out water-skiing, fortunately his friend’s wife Penny Taylor was able to grab him and pull him into the boat to which Stuart explained ‘if she hadn’t, I would now be six feet under.’

He added: “I stood up in the boat and said that I didn’t feel well and just keeled over. My heart just stopped.

“My best friend’s wife pulled me in and was then lying on the bottom of the boat with a dead weight on top of her.

“Luckily my best friend Justin has a good engine on his boat and the heart specialist believes that that combined with the cresting of the waves was the start of CPR and it could have been what saved me.”

During the incident, Justin’s daughter was able to dial 999 as they raced back to shore and as a stroke of luck during the peak holiday season, there were ‘plenty of doctors and nurses walking by’ who were able to take over and perform CPR until the ambulance arrived.

The ambulance drove Stuart up to the nearby rugby club where he was then transferred to the care of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and taken to Plymouth Hospital where he spent a total of 22 days – four of which he spent in an induced coma.

Stuart said: “I was in the Intensive Care Unit for another eight days and finally released after 22 days with pacemaker and defibrillator fitted.

“Justin and Penny were there with me in Plymouth through the first failed attempt at getting me out of a coma.”

Following his brush with death, Stuart said: “Every morning I wake up, the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, you’re thankful for the smallest things in life. I’m a lucky, lucky, lucky man.”

Stuart moved to Drimpton about three years ago and met his friend Paul Clements, 61, shortly after, who he will be taking part in the cycle ride alongside.

Paul and his wife Ellie moved to Drimpton from Hampshire about 18 months ago where he worked as a police officer for around 30 years before starting up his own chimney sweep business which is how he and Stuart met.

Paul said: “I met Stuart when I was cleaning his chimney and that’s when he told me the story of his cardiac arrest and then a few months later I saw this cycle ride coming through the village and Stuart was marshalling, we got chatting about our mutual love of cycling and ended up founding the Drimpton Cycle Club.”

The pair are feeling ‘really good and positive’ about the challenge and if you would like to donate to their fundraiser, visit: https://dsairambulance.enthuse.com/pf/paul-clements.