FORMER Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher today announced plans to lead a campaign for the machine which helped save his life to be made widely available at golf courses throughout Britain.
The Scottish golfing legend was rushed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in a critical condition on 29 August after he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed at the luxury Marcliffe Hotel on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
The 64 year-old Scot, who led the European golf team to a dramatic victory over America in 1995, collapsed before he give an after dinner speech in the city. And he later said he owed his life to the fact that the Marcliffe had a defibrillator.
Speaking last month he said: “I had no pain, no warning of what was coming. People said I suddenly collapsed. They said it looked like I’d been floored by a boxer.
“Three nurses gave me immediate help. The Marcliffe Hotel had a defibrillator, which was incredibly lucky. If it hadn’t been I wouldn’t be here. These people saved my life.”
A spokesman for Mr Gallacher said today: “Bernard is planning his return to the golf course and making plans to lead a campaign for defibrillators to be widely available at golf courses, following treatment at Aberdeen Royal infirmary for sudden heart arrhythmia.”
He continued: “Whilst undertaking an engagement for a corporate client in Aberdeen, Bernard was taken ill and spent 15 days under the excellent care of medical staff in Aberdeen, seven days of which were in intensive care.
“Bernard went into cardiac arrest - commonly known as ‘Sudden Death Syndrome - on three occasions following irregular heart activity in the days preceding the incident. Thanks to the composed and quick thinking of staff and guests at the engagement, as well as quick access to a defibrillator, Bernard is now on his way to making a full recovery with no long term effects expected.
“The availability of a defibrillator was central in giving Bernard a chance of survival and along with his wife Lesley and the support of the PGA and European Tour, he will be championing a campaign to make defibrillators widely accessible at golf courses around the UK.”
The spokesman added: “The support and well-wishes received throughout Bernard’s time in hospital and since returning home have been incredible, and Bernard would like to pass his sincere thanks to his sponsors and supporters for their kind words, thoughts and prayers. Bernard will not be undertaking any additional corporate engagements in 2013 but with a home Ryder Cup to look forward to in 2014, will be busy supporting the European Team and recounting his Ryder Cup experiences throughout next year.”
Mr Gallacher, who was born in Bathgate, played in the Ryder Cup eight times and was non-playing captain of the European Team in 1991, 1993 and 1995. He lost the first two matches but led the European side to a stunning victory on American soil in 1995 when the European team beat America by 14½ to 13½ points at the Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York.
In 1969, at the age of 20, he became the youngest player to represent Great Britain and Ireland in the Ryder Cup up to that time. He also recorded his first win as a professional that year, taking the PGA Championship title.