TWO life-savers who helped a man who went into cardiac arrest after playing table tennis have been recognised with a national award.

Mark Rodgers and Rob Beckwith were named as CPR Heroes by the British Heart Foundation at a glittering award ceremony in London.

They received their awards for saving the life of Mike Jones, who was playing in a table tennis league match at Ouston Community Centre, near Chester-le-Street.

When he collapsed, Mr Rodgers, a PCSO with Durham Constabulary, and Mr Beckwith called 999 and started CPR immediately.

Paramedics from North East Ambulance Service quickly arrived on scene and took over giving life-saving treatment, before transporting Mr Jones to hospital.

Mr Rodgers, 31, said: “When Mike collapsed, I recognised that he wasn’t breathing and, looking back, I’m glad I started CPR as quickly as I did.

“I’m delighted to receive the CPR Hero award and hope it encourages other people to train in life-saving skills. You never know when you might need them, as a cardiac arrest could happen anywhere or any time.”

The CPR Hero awards recognise the life-saving actions of people who step into help when someone is having a cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

Often it is because of a problem with the electrical signals to the heart muscle and someone who is having a cardiac arrest will collapse and stop breathing.

For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest falls by around ten per cent. There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year and less than one in ten people survive.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: “We are proud to give this award to Mark and Rob. Their life-saving actions make them true heroes. It is also a powerful reminder of why CPR skills are so important.

The lives of thousands of people each year could be saved if more people were confident about what to do when someone is having a cardiac arrest.

“That’s why the BHF is striving to improve survival rates through CPR training programmes and working to ensure CPR is routinely taught in schools.”