Bedford dad reunited at charity football match with man who saved his life

“I think of him as a brother now”

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 2:49 pm

A father-of-two from Bedford has been reunited with the man who saved his life.

Gavin Hoyte, 35, was attending a stag-do in Newcastle when he suddenly collapsed in September last year.

Thankfully, his life was saved when off-duty fireman Damian Wright stepped in and carried out CPR while an ambulance was called.

More than 200 people attended the charity match and fun day

But despite running a series of tests, doctors were unable to determine the cause of the cardiac arrest and Gavin was subsequently fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator – or ICD – which sends electrical pulses to regulate abnormal heart rhythms.

Since their unconventional meeting, Gavin and Damian have become good friends. A month after his heart scare, Gavin’s brother arranged a surprise meeting between the two men.

Gavin – who runs a scaffolding firm – said: “One of my mates had taken Damian’s phone number and my brother kept him informed of what was happening with me while I was in hospital.

"Without telling me, my brother arranged for Damian to come down. I walked into the house and there he was. It was such a powerful moment to meet the man who saved my life. We both hugged and started to cry.”

Two teams of old school friends played the match at Wotton Blue Cross FC

Since then, the two men have stayed in contact. They have attended sports events together and met each other’s families.

Gavin said: “I speak to Damian every week. I think of him as a brother now. The anniversary of my cardiac arrest is coming up and we’re planning on having a little get-together to celebrate.”

Grateful for his recovery, Gavin decided to make the British Heart Foundation (BHF) one of the beneficiaries of a charity football tournament he helped to organise.

The event, which raised more than £5,100, also supported the Alzheimer’s Society and the Azaylia Foundation.

From left, Damian Wright and Gavin Hoyte

More than 200 people turned out for the match at Wootton Blue Cross FC – which pitted two teams of old school friends against each other.

In recognition of his actions, Damian was invited as to be the guest of honour and presented the trophy to the winning side.