The partner of a Darlington footballer who had a medical emergency during a match has thanked his friends and teammates for their efforts to save his life.

Yasmin Allison, from Newton Aycliffe, said she received a call on January 29 informing her that her partner, Ben Simpson, from Darlington, had suffered a cardiac arrest while playing football at Eastbourne Sports Complex.

Thanks to the quick-thinking and aid of his friends, teammates, opposition players, and officials, Mr Simpson life was saved through a combination of CPR and defibrillation.

Ms Allison added that she, her partner, and his family and friends all plan to raise funds alongside Armitage and Wilson Furniture and heart charity Missed a Beat – with the goal of raising money for more defibrillators to be installed locally.

She said: “The family feel so lucky that Ben was playing at Eastbourne Sports Complex as they have a defibrillator on site, however there is currently no legal requirement for organisations including workplaces, schools, sport complexes and public venues to have defibrillators on site and unfortunately not everybody survives.

“Plans have already started for Ben and his family and friends to start working alongside Armitage and Wilson Furniture, and the wonderful Mark Preston at Missed a Beat charity, to organise some fundraising events to raise money to enable more defibrillators to be installed locally along with supporting sports clubs with their fundraising efforts to purchase and donate portable defibrillators.

“All of Ben`s family are grateful to Ben’s friends, teammates, the opposition players, players from other pitches and the referees for recognising that Ben was in a time critical and life-threatening situation and responding quickly to give him lifesaving CPR and defibrillation. Without this, he wouldn’t be with us today.

“Ben had felt unwell during the day but is otherwise fit and healthy, so this has come as a complete shock to us and we’re still trying to process what’s happened.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have such an amazing support network of family and friends.”

Mr Simpson is now awaiting life changing surgery to fit an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) that will give him the critical shock he needs to prevent cardiac arrest in the event of another arrhythmia.

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Mark Preston, 50, director and founder of Missed a Beat, originally founded the foundation after his friend, Darren Scott, passed away following a cardiac arrest while playing football.

He has since worked to ensure more defibrillators are readily available across Newton Aycliffe and the surrounding area to prevent similar tragedies.

Mr Preston said he was contacted on the night of Mr Simpson’s medical emergency and has since ordered a defibrillator for the complex.

He said: “The amount of people who have come on and want to see what we are doing is unbelievable.

“I’ve been exchanging messages with Ben in hospital and said that I can’t wait to see and meet him again.

“I can’t wait to see you again and give you a man hug.”

He added he had provided them with signed sports memorabilia which has since been sold for £400, raising half of the necessary funds for the defibrillator.

Mr Preston added Mr Simpson’s survival highlights the importance of defibrillators and added he will be using this as an example of how significant access to the lifesaving equipment is.

The next fundraising event for Missed a Beat will see Jenna Learoyd launch her debut album on the March 1.

She hopes to raise money for the charity through a raffle to help bring awareness to the lifesaving work Missed a Beat does.

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Ms Allison said: “Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen to anybody, anywhere any time and survival often depends on whether there is a defibrillator available.

“For every minute that a person is in cardiac arrest without CPR and defibrillation, their chance of survival decreases by another 10 per cent.

“To put this into context, five minutes then you only have 50/50 chance of survival.”