A HEART attack nearly killed Chester pensioner Mike Norfolk 22 years ago.
Against the odds, the feisty former fencing champ survived gruelling bypass surgery and went on to set up one of the longest-running cardiac support groups in the country.
“There were just 13 of us in the beginning,” Mike said.
“We all pitched in £1 to set it up and now, after more than 20 years, we are a recognised supplier for cardiac patients.
“It’s exactly what this so-called Big Society is about and we’ve been doing it for 22 years.”
The Chester Cardiac Support Group, staffed entirely by volunteers, is affiliated to the British Heart Foundation and holds monthly meetings and regular social events.
Mike’s wife Bunny, who has also been through heart surgery, has kept a record of the group’s activities since it began.
“It is important to see what a few people can achieve,” she said.
“The work we do is so vital to welfare and recovery.”
The group not only provides a service to inform and talk to patients, but they also have the opportunity to take part in social events, making sure they do get out and about.
Mike, who carried on in his fencing career as a coach at Wrexham Fencing Club for many years after the surgery, added: “It is so important to keep active.
“If you have had a heart attack, you can’t just sit in your chair and think, ‘Oh, I can’t do that because I had a heart attack’ because that is the worst thing you could do.”
Bunny, however, has another theory: “It’s about friendship,” she insists.
“It’s so important, and it’s one of the things that has kept us going for the last 20 years.”
To find out more about the Chester Cardiac Support Group, call Mike or Bunny on 01244 659133.