Elland golfer Jim Fairhurst survives life-saving crisis to win seniors title

A ROUND of 70 at Elland earned Jim Fairhurst his second Halifax-Huddersfield Union seniors stroke play title – one for each of the times he had to be revived after arriving at hospital just a year earlier having fallen ill on the golf course.

Jim Fairhurst: Has twice won the Halifax-Huddersfield Union seniors title.
Jim Fairhurst: Has twice won the Halifax-Huddersfield Union seniors title.

The Halifax Bradley Hall player has a perfect record in the competition, the global pandemic and then his health issues denying him the chance to defend the championship he won in 2019, the first year he was eligible to play in it at 55.

In between those two contests, the 59-year-old underwent a battle to save his life when cardiac problems – that saw him given an implantable cardioverter defibrillator – resurfaced after more than a decade of good health.

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“In 2008 I had a cardiac arrest, but the drugs and the device were working fine. Then last April, I was playing golf and had a funny feeling that something wasn’t right,” said Fairhurst, who won by four shots at Elland from Paul Booth, of Crosland Heath.

Halifax Bradley Hall's Jim Fairhurst receives the Halifax-Huddersfield Union's seniors stroke play Championship Shield from Phil Tatlock, right, sponsor of the event in honour of his late wife Elizabeth A Tatlock. Left is the union's president Glynn Mellor (Elland).

“I had a heartbeat of 178. My wife called the ambulance, they came, took me into Halifax A&E, and I was in the crash room and my device actually had to go off twice in the ward to save my life and, obviously, I wasn’t in a good position.

“I had another incident in the ward overnight when my blood pressure dropped very low, my heart stopped, the device kicked in again and got me back okay. Then they rushed me over to Leeds in an ambulance where they tried to shock me again twice, once with my own defib and once with an external defib.”

The following morning he underwent an ablation, a procedure to treat atrial fibrillation by using small burns or freezes to cause scarring on the inside of the heart that helps break up the electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeats.

Within a month he was back playing.

“The drugs were a little bit iffy at first, but I’ve been put back on the drugs that I was on originally and now everything is okay, touch wood,” beamed Fairhurst, who with clubmates Andy Whitworth and David Whitaker helped Bradley Hall lift the Geoffrey Horrocks-Taylor Trophy for the best three-man aggregate, Whitworth and Whitaker each carding 77.

Nett champion was Phil Smith, of Bradley Park with 66, one ahead of Crow Nest Park’s Tony Ludlow–Green. Smith’s clubmate Andy Bemrose shot 67 for top score in the 55-64 age group.