Ripon greengrocer who survived three heart attacks to share dramatic story on national TV

John Simmonds
John Simmonds

The dramatic efforts to save the life of a Ripon greengrocer who suffered three heart attacks, will be shown on Monday night's episode of Helicopter ER - the UKTV series that follows the life-saving work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Father-of-three John Simmonds, 67, who has been selling fruit and vegetables from his mobile greengrocers van for more than 40 years, was loading his vehicle up one morning when he suffered a massive heart attack.

He said: “I remember being at the wholesalers and loading the van one morning last October, and then the next thing I was looking up at this lovely nurse and wondering what on earth was happening.

A-Level results 2018: Your guide to Harrogate district
John’s heart was shocked back to life twice by a road ambulance crew, before Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedics arrived.

With John too unstable to fly, Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedic Matt Syrat went with him in on the road journey to Harrogate hospital, during which his heart stopped a third time.

John said: “Everyone was absolutely brilliant and I know I’ve been very very lucky. I decided to sell my van after having a pacemaker fitted.

“The doctors didn’t think it was a good thing for me to continue lifting sacks of fruit and vegetables every day, but I could have opened a card shop with all the well wishes I got from people, which was really touching.

“You see the Air Ambulance flying overhead quite often and always feel sorry for the person who is so ill to need it, never thinking that one day it would be me.”

John still provides a gardening and hedge-cutting service, but is enjoying spending more time with his family and following his beloved Leeds United.

John's story will air on Monday night on Really, at 9pm.