'Without them I would have died': Duo thanked for saving Essex shopper's life

Ian Howlett (left) and Detective Sergeant Gav Morris. Credit: Essex Police

A man who collapsed while out shopping has thanked the off-duty detective and shop worker who helped to save his life.

Ian Howard collapsed in Sainsbury's in Braintree on 15 June.

After spending a couple of day's in hospital, Mr Howard is slowly recovering and has now met both his lifesavers – Detective Sergeant Gav Morris and Sainsbury’s worker Holly Heather – to thank them ‘from the bottom of my heart’.

Ian, who lives in Sible Hedingham, said: “I had pains in my chest, so I took my medication but as I walked towards Argos the pain got slowly worse. I knew I was in trouble and I asked one of the girls there to help me, it turned out to be Holly Heather.

"She asked me to sit down. I don’t remember phoning my wife but Gavin says I did, so I must have.

"Then I remember coming to on the floor and someone holding my hands, saying ‘I’ve got you, mate. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. You’re in safe hands’. And it turned out to be Gavin.

“I am so grateful, from the bottom of my heart, that he was there to help me.

"I found out later that without him and Holly, I would have died on that day. They did a wonderful job. I really can’t praise them enough.”

Gav Morris had popped into Sainsbury’s when a member of staff who knew he was a police officer asked if he could help with a customer who wasn’t feeling well.

“He didn’t look very well and wasn’t saying a lot. I was talking to him, reassuring him and asking where the pain was. Then he began to lose consciousness although he was still breathing.“

"Holly, the Sainsbury’s first aider was already there, and we both got him on the floor.

"Then he stopped breathing.The ambulance controller told Holly we had to start giving him CPR. She started the first round of compressions but it was easier for her to stay on the phone while I did the compressions.“

"Ian came round quickly and we started to reassure him again. But he stopped breathing again and I did more compressions and he came back round. That happened for a third time before the ambulance crew arrived and took over. “

"I just thought at the time ‘I hope he gets to see his wife and I hope I get to meet him’.

"We join the police to protect the public to preserve life and we do that whether we are on duty or not. We all sign up to that.

“It was lovely to see Ian and his wife again and to know he’s going to see a specialist now. But it’s a very surreal feeling being thanked for something which, at the time, you just do because you are trained to do it.“