A REFEREE who suffered a major heart attack on the pitch has been reunited with the people who saved his life.

Fifty-year-old Doug Skelton collapsed to the ground and stopped breathing while refereeing a rugby match in Selby last month.

But within a minute, off-duty special constable and rugby player Neil Williams and physiotherapist Hayley Brady had rushed to his aid and started working to resuscitate Doug, who was showing no signs of life and did not have a pulse.

They have been credited with saving the life of the dad-of-three, who was then airlifted to hospital in Leeds and later transferred to York. He is now recuperating at home with his wife Fiona and sons Jamie, 20, Bruce, 15, and daughter Lorna, 18.

Doug said: "What they did is just fantastic. It must have been distressing for them.

"I had no idea about heart problems. There was family history but you just never know. They saved my life - the paramedic was clear about that."

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

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

Neil and Hayley were applauded as they left the pitch.

They both visited Doug at his home in Brayton.

Doug, who said his heart attack was caused by a blood clot, underwent an operation to have stents in his heart.

He has been told to rest for the next three months to recover. "It's going to be a long road but I'm glad to be here," Doug said.

He thanked York Hospital for the standard of care he received as well as the paramedics and air ambulance.

The quantity surveyor also emphasised the importance of having defibrillators available in public places and suggested air ambulances were so invaluable they should not have to rely on charitable donation.

In a statement posted on the club website after the incident, Doug's wife Fiona said: "Neil and Hayley 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."