A MAN who suffered a huge heart attack while refereeing a rugby match has survived after being given life-saving treatment on the pitch.

Crowds watching seven-a-side matches in Selby on Saturday were horrified when 50-year-old referee Doug Skelton collapsed to the ground and stopped breathing.

But within a minute, off duty special constable and rugby player Neil Williams and team physiotherapist Hayley Brady started working to resuscitate Doug, who was showing no signs of life.

Doug, a quantity surveyor from Brayton, is now recovering in York Hospital and his family and paramedics have credited Neil and Hayley with saving his life.

His son Jamie yesterday said his dad was slowly recovering in the Coronary Care Unit at York Hospital.

He said: "He is doing as well as he can be. He is taking the time to recover. He is sore and tired but he is able to chat for short periods of time with his family.

"Neil and Hayley did all they possibly could and ultimately it saved his life."

Neil carried out chest compressions and Hayley mouth-to-mouth, then they used a defibrillator after paramedics arrived and worked alongside them.

Neil, who is a First Aid trained mines rescue officer in Kellingley, said: "I have done this three times and Dougie is the only one that pulled through.

"We 'defibbed' him once and he didn't come round and again and his heart started to beat on its own, which was a miracle.

"He started making noises and breathing on his own but he wasn't out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. We kept his airways open and kept talking to him.

"It was traumatic, his wife and children were there, they were shouting to him."

By the time the Yorkshire Air Ambulance arrived, Doug was showing signs of responding and a paramedic said Neil and Hayley's quick action had saved his life.

Doug - whose sons Jamie, 20, and Bruce, 15, both play for Selby Rugby Union Football Club - was taken to Leeds General Infirmary where he underwent an operation to have stents in his arteries. He has since been transferred to York Hospital.

He also has a daughter Lorna, 18,

In a statement posted on the club website, Doug's wife Fiona said: "Jamie, Lorna Bruce and I are all feeling more positive tonight. Doug has turned a corner today and hopefully will continue to make progress each day. Words can't convey how I feel about the club, I thank each and everyone one of you .

"Neil and Haley you've given everything ... a husband, dad, son, brother ,uncle and friend... He had just the best team around him we could've wished for. We have been overwhelmed with messages and offers of kindness from every corner of our lives."

Neil and Hayley were applauded as they left the pitch.