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David Ginola joins schoolchildren learning CPR with Newcastle United Foundation

Newcastle United hero David Ginola is back on Tyneside giving his support to an initiative that sees Newcastle United Foundation delivering CPR training to schoolchildren.

The flamboyant French winger was one of the stars of Kevin Keegan’s famous Newcastle United Entertainers team of the mid ‘90s, with his flair and skilful play setting him apart.

A successful Premier League and punditry and presenting careerfollowed, however Ginola would endure a near-fatal cardiac arrest in 2016, collapsing on the football pitch during a charity match in his home country.

Ginola lay clinically dead for more than eight minutes on the pitch, while his friend and fellow footballer Frédéric Mendy administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) which would ultimately save his life.

Now fully recovered following a quadruple bypass, the former Magpie is passionate about giving the gift of life through CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training.

The 53-year-old took the time to visit Benfield School, in Walkergate, Newcastle, on Friday, joining a Restart a Heart class, delivered by Newcastle United Foundation staff.

Among the group of children being taught how to manage a medical emergency was Filip Kania, a 13-year-old schoolboy who has already undergone five major heart surgeries in his childhood.

Most recently, the Benfield pupil spent more than six weeks at the Freeman Hospital after receiving open-heart surgery before Christmas when a pacemaker was fitted. Since then, doctors have advised him against playing football to avoid extra strain on his heart.

Filip has been devasted by the news, but was able to share his experience with Ginola during the class and got to know the inspirational French player.

Ginola said: “I am so pleased to see children being taught CPR which really can save someone’s life. When I collapsed, of the 15 or so people on the pitch, only one or two knew how to perform CPR.

“I hope these young people will never have to use this training, but it is so important they know what to do if someone they know is in trouble.

“When I collapsed, it was the CPR that kept oxygen going to my brain that saved my life. The heart surgeon who operated on me in hospital afterwards said without that, I wouldn’t have survived.

“I was very lucky that people around me knew how to perform CPR and I am proud of Newcastle United Foundation for training the next generation to be life savers.”

Restart a Heart is a global initiative, developed by the European Resuscitation Council, raising awareness of the importance of teaching members of the public how to help someone suffering cardiac arrest.

Benfield pupils heard how currently less than one in 10 survive cardiac arrest in the UK, but the earlier a patient can receive CPR and a shock from a defibrillator, the greater their chance of survival.

As the official charity arm of Newcastle United Football Club, Newcastle United Foundation is leading the way in delivering this crucial training, supporting their work in schools to deliver educational and physical activities for the next generation.

Foundation staff received comprehensive training from the North East Ambulance Service in late 2019, working with resuscitation mannequins and defibrillators at St. James’ Park.

They have since taken their training out to primary schools across Tyneside, introducing pupils to emergency first aid procedures not generally taught even to adults outside first aid courses.

Steve Beharall, Acting Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: “We are honoured to welcome David Ginola back to Newcastle and it is fantastic to have his support for the Restart a Heart programme.

“David and Foundation staff know the importance of CPR training and how vital this can be – especially if the young people here have a relative or friend with chronic health problems.

“It is unlikely these children will ever have to administer CPR or use a defibrillator, but are committed to supporting the community with their health and wellbeing, whatever their age.

“We offer this medical training to children as part of our Premier League Primary Stars programme. By completing this Restart a Heart training, they’re going to be prepared to deal with medical emergencies, even when some adults aren’t.”

Ginola has previously supported Newcastle United Foundation by joining the Steve Harper 20 Years Charity Match with proceeds of the one-off game split between the Foundation, Great North Children’s Hospital and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Ginola added: “It is a pleasure to be back in Newcastle as the city has a very special place in my heart.

“I will never forget my time at the club and in the town – I am very pleased to be supporting Newcastle United Foundation with their important work.”

For more information on the Foundation's Restart A Heart sessions

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