Royal Humane Society Award for CPR at Suffolk Pub

06 July 2021

Bystander CPR which saved a young man’s life in Suffolk last year has been recognised with a Resuscitation Certificate from the Royal Humane Society, a charity which promotes lifesaving intervention.

The award was presented at the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) base in Cambridge to Debbie Lavender from Woodbridge, who works as a nurse at West Suffolk Hospital. The award recognises Debbie’s efforts for ‘restoring a man to life’ on 18 July 2020, when a man suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in the garden of the Maybush pub in Waldringfield last July. 

The young man was 30-year-old Will Fiske, from Framlingham, who had no previous health concerns when the incident happened. Thanks to Debbie’s quick actions as a bystander, Will, now aged 31, is well on the road to recovery. The award was presented to Debbie at an emotional reunion at the EAAA Cambridge base between Debbie, Will, his family, and the air ambulance doctor, Natalie Lonsdale, who was on duty that night and treated Will.

Pictured above - Will's mum Linda, partner Laura, Will, Dr Lonsdale, Debbie and her partner Grant.

When the cardiac arrest happened at 8:25pm in the evening, almost a year ago, Will was out for dinner with his partner, Laura, celebrating the happy news that they were going to move into together. Debbie had also been having dinner at the pub with her partner, Grant, when Will collapsed. With the help of other bystanders in the pub, Debbie performed CPR and used a defibrillator, which had been sourced from nearby, successfully regaining Will’s pulse before the ambulance service arrived on scene.   

An East Anglian Air Ambulance team of Doctor Natalie Lonsdale, Critical Care Paramedic Luke Chamberlain and Pilots Matthew Sandbach and Dan Mansell were tasked to the scene to provide advanced life support, before accompanying Will, by land ambulance, to Ipswich Hospital for further tests. Dr Natalie Lonsdale praised Debbie’s quick response in starting the chain of survival, chest compressions and a defibrillator.

The EAAA Aftercare team then nominated Debbie for a Royal Humane Award for Resuscitation, to recognise her part in saving Will’s life. The incident happened when Covid-19 restrictions had just lifted and Debbie acted without PPE or fear for her own safety.    

“For Debbie to successfully perform CPR, use the defibrillator and get Will’s pulse back before the emergency services arrived was a huge thing to do and really did help to save Will’s life. Working with patients in Will’s situation, I know just how much of a difference that immediate CPR and shock from a defibrillator can make to a positive outcome. To be able to meet both Debbie and Will today, almost a year later, was incredible and I’m really pleased that Debbie’s bravery and quick thinking has been recognised in this award. ”

Dr Natalie Lonsdale


Will was diagnosed with a heart condition and later transferred to Papworth Hospital for further treatment, including having an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) fitted, to correct any subsequent life-threatening arrhythmias. Today Will is fit, well, playing five-aside football and enjoying life with his partner Laura and her two daughters.   

Debbie Lavender said: “To be nominated and to receive a Royal Humane Society Award really is incredible. Meeting Will and his family, Doctor Natalie and the EAAA team, nearly a year later, was so special and a day I will never forget. The positive outcome of this story really does highlight the importance of early CPR and defibrillation and how this can help to save a life. Thank you to Doctor Natalie and the EAAA team for the award nomination, for bringing us together and for the amazing pre-hospital care you provide daily.”