Dame Kelly Holmes learns vital lifesaving skills with London Ambulance Service

The gold medallist was invited to visit the service for a staff network event organised by the LGBT+Network

Dame Kelly Holmes with London Ambulance Service

Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes has learnt how to save a life after undertaking her London Lifesaver training at London Ambulance Service HQ in Waterloo.

The gold medallist was invited to visit the service for a staff network event organised by the LGBT+Network.

As guest speaker she talked about the pressures she had faced throughout her life from the intensity of competitive sport to the fear she felt hiding her sexuality while in the army when it was illegal to be gay.

She said: “I didn’t know I was gay when I first joined, But when I realised I might be, I found out it was against the law. So that meant for the risk of losing your job you had to be extremely careful about who knew and trust people explicitly.

“My barracks had a raid by the Royal Military Police when I was 22 years of age – it left me with a lot of trauma and that’s the reason why I only came out two years ago. I live with 34 years of fear – all from an institution that instilled that in me as a young person. I will never allow myself to feel like that again.”

Talking about feeling at peace, being happy and what gets her up in the morning she said: “I’m still driven to do so much. I’ve got a platform and a voice – that makes me feel excited.”

And that includes encouraging Londoners to learn how to save a life.

After her inspiring speech, Dame Kelly took up the chance to refresh her life-saving skills, including how to recognise when someone is in cardiac arrest, perform chest compressions and use a defibrillator.

It only takes a few minutes to learn the simple steps to take when someone has a cardiac arrest – but can make a whole world of difference in that life or death moment.

Dame Kelly Holmes said: “The London Lifesavers training is a really great thing to do and I really think the more people who can get trained up and are aware of what to do in the event of a cardiac arrest the better. We all have those moments when we wonder ‘what would I do in the event of an emergency?’ – and doing this kind of training is important so you have it in the front of your mind.

“No-one knows what is going to happen so it’s important to be armed with this knowledge and know how. I did this kind of training years ago and you remember little bits – but it’s definitely good to get it refreshed and I’m so glad I gave it a go.

“The programme is really important. I’d tell all Londoners to give it a go, come along to a pop-up or go online and see where you can get trained up to save a life.”

Dame Kelly also undertook a tour of LAS HQ in Waterloo. Speaking about meeting all the people who work on the frontline and behind the scenes to care for Londoners, she added:

 “The whole experience for me was great and it was fascinating to see all the different departments. Honestly, I was humbled by everything that was happening – all the processes in place that lead to the Service. It was amazing to see how everyone was so passionate about doing their best and doing all they can to help others at the end of the day.”

London Ambulance Service’s London Lifesavers campaign aims to provide people with the knowledge, confidence and capabilities to act quickly if someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

Early intervention in the form of chest compressions and the use of defibrillator can more than double someone’s chances at survival from a cardiac arrest.

Research shows that 76% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in the home, meaning that learning these skills could help people save the life of a loved one.

Sam Palfreyman-Jones, head of first responders at London Ambulance Service said: “I would like to thank Dame Kelly Holmes for taking part in this training today and encouraging people to learn these life-saving skills. Learning to restart a heart is simple – it can take just a few minutes, the time it took Kelly to win 1,500 gold at the Athens Olympics – but it could help save the life of someone you love.

“Kelly had learnt CPR many years before and understood the importance of maintain these vital lifesaving skills, which can be refreshed for free at any of our pop up events held across London.”

You can learn how to sign up to become a London Lifesaver and support the campaign here. If you would like to donate to this cause, or take on a fundraising challenge of your own, visit:

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