A GYM user who collapsed on the floor after suffering a cardiac arrest has praised the leisure centre staff that saved his life.

Michael Farrimond, from Atherton, was on a cross trainer at Howe Bridge Leisure Centre on a snowy morning at the end of January.

The former Twelve Apostles RC Primary School head teacher, who had no previous signs of heart problems, remembers the moment he fell ill.

Granddad-of-11 Michael, 66, said: "I had a massive thump to my chest and the next thing I knew people were around me and I was being resuscitated by the Howe Bridge staff.

"I don't even remember falling to the floor."

Leisure centre workers sprung into action and gave him three shocks of a defibrillator and gave him first aid while ambulance service was on their way.

"If the staff had not been there or not known what to do I do not know if I would have survived," Michael said.

"They knew exactly what to do.

"The staff saved my life and I will be eternally grateful to them.

"When the paramedics from the ambulance arrived they were surprised I was able to sit up."

The incident was captured on BBC One's programme Ambulance last week where paramedics praised the Eckersley Fold Lane centre and outlined the value of having life-saving equipment such as a defibrillator.

Michael, who was regular at the gym for 10 years, going two to three times a week and using the swimming pool, thought he may have had to go for a walk instead that day.

He added: "I said to my wife Helen that I would go down to the gym but if it was closed because of the snow I would go for a walk at Lilford Woods.

"Looking back I was very glad that the gym was open because I don't think anyone would have found me if I went for a walk on that day."

Site manager at Howe Bridge Leisure Centre, Andy Hewitt, said: “We are delighted Mr Farrimond is recovering well and he has stayed in touch over the last few weeks with updates on how he is doing.

"Our staff are extremely well trained and knew exactly how to act in this situation and immediately began administering the necessary life saving techniques while emergency serves were called.”

Michael is in the process of completing a rehabilitation programme and hopes to return to the gym later this year.