Shoreham 70-year-old who collapsed by river thanks the ‘wonderful’ people who helped her

A 70-year-old woman has thanked the ‘wonderful’ people who rushed to help her when she collapsed in Shoreham, describing their response as ‘the nicest thing’ that had ever happened to her in the town.

Rua O’Neill had set off from her house in Shoreham for a bike ride south along the path next to the river Adur on Tuesday, January 22, when, just before reaching the railway bridge, she began to feel unwell.

Rua O'Neill with her bike, which she was riding before she collapsed on the riverbank

Rua O'Neill with her bike, which she was riding before she collapsed on the riverbank

As she got off her bike, she managed to catch the attention of a man passing with his three-year-old son, who came over and held her under the arms to stop her dropping to the ground.

Other passersby started to gather and the manager at the nearby construction site, who she knew only as James, placed his yellow jacket over her.

It was a ‘freezing day’ and Ms O’Neill recalled that other people also started to lay their coats on her to keep her warm, making her feel ‘much better’.

She was kept company until an ambulance arrived and took her to hospital for the night.

Ms O’Neill said it was a ‘frightening’ experience but said the way that people came to assist her was ‘life-affirming’.

“Everyone that was involved was quite wonderful,” she said.

“It was the most heartwarming feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life and the nicest thing that has ever happened to me in Shoreham.”

She explained she had been feeling ‘a bit mixed’ on the day of her collapse because her dog, Sukay, a rescued husky, had been put to sleep three weeks earlier.

“My dog was a comfort for me, I used to take her everywhere with me,” she said.

She had decided to go to the riverbank because it was one of her pet’s favourite places.

“I just wanted to say hello to my dog really,” she said, adding: “It was very upsetting to go past that spot. She meant a lot to me because I live on my own.”

After spending the night in hospital, Mrs O’Neill returned home and said she is now feeling much better.

She returned to the spot where she fell several days later to collect her bike, which James had kept safe for her.

Ms O’Neill wanted to give her heartfelt thanks to everyone that helped her that day – the father and all the others who waited with her for an ambulance, James and all the nurses at hospital.

She said of their actions: “It made me feel good in my heart.”

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