RUGBY referee Hadden Graham says the quick actions of two players and Wiltshire Air Ambulance saved his life when he collapsed on the pitch.

Hadden, who lives in Marlborough, was 30 minutes into a game between Westbury and Swanage & Wareham at Westbury Sports Centre when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Two of the Westbury players and the father of one of the players, who was on the sidelines, performed CPR on Hadden and used a defibrillator that was in the clubhouse to get his heart beating again.

An ambulance arrived followed by Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Hadden, who was unconscious, was flown to the Royal United Hospital, Bath.

After being stabilised, he was taken on to Bristol Royal Infirmary where he was treated and had a defibrillator fitted inside his chest to help regulate his heart rhythm.

Hadden, who is married with three grown-up children, was back at work less than three weeks after the incident on December 20, 2008, and has remained healthy since.

Hadden, who is the global technical director at AB Vista, an animal nutrition technology company based at Marlborough Business Park, has supported Wiltshire Air Ambulance since he was airlifted.

He recently visited the current airbase in Devizes to meet members of the operational and charity team.

He said: “The rugby players who performed CPR on me and Wiltshire Air Ambulance helped save my life and ensure I could subsequently return to normality, something for which my family and I will be eternally grateful.

“Since they airlifted me, Wiltshire Air Ambulance has become the charity of choice for my family and friends. We make regular and one-off donations and take part in the annual raffle.

“Many people are aware of the good work that the air ambulance does. However, most probably think it is paid for from central funds but it is a charity and relies almost entirely on public donations.

“For a rural area such as Wiltshire, the air ambulance can mean the difference between life and death – it certainly deserves the support of the people of the county.”

Hadden is still active with Marlborough Rugby Club and he also assesses and advises rugby referees in Dorset and Wiltshire.