HEARTFELT thanks have been given to a pharmacist for her lifesaving advice to a customer.

Now recovering after successful heart surgery, John Chick says he owes his life to Carina Jooste's urging that he seek immediate medical help.

Mr Chick, of Stilwell Close, Yateley, was persuaded by his wife Kathleen to have one of the free blood pressure checks offered by the branch of Lloyds Chemists in the town.

"I had been out walking our dog when I felt ill," said Mr Chick, 67.

"It took me half an hour to get back to the car so I knew deep down something was wrong, although I preferred to ignore it.

"After talking to my wife, the next day I gave in and went to the chemist, where Carina did the test.

"The look on her face when she saw the results and the way she told me that I must get to my GP immediately convinced me to do as she said — and thank heavens I did."

Mr Chick's blood pressure was dangerously high.

"I was all for seeing a doctor the following day but she repeated very firmly that I should go without delay," he said.

"From that point on my feet did not seem to touch the ground — I could not believe how quickly everything happened or how seriously ill I was."

Mr Chick's GP at Oaklands Surgery in Yateley called an ambulance to take him to Frimley Park Hospital where tests showed he had had a heart attack and his heart was in a critical state.

He was taken to St George's Hospital in Tooting, where he had procedures done to open up the arteries.

"Apparently one artery had been blocked for years," said Mr Chick, a retired Heathrow Airport security manager.

"I must say that I could not have had better or more efficient treatment; the National Health Service was first-rate."

But his biggest vote of thanks goes to Carina, manager at Lloyds in Yateley and a pharmacist for 18 years.

"This lady saved my life," he said. "I am more grateful than I can say and very lucky too.

"If she had not insisted I should get help straight away I would have put it off and according to the consultant I could have dropped dead at any time."

Mrs Jooste said: "Blood pressure testing is one of the new professional services we offer at Lloyds' beacon branches throughout the country.

We believe it is very valuable and I think Mr Chick's experiences bear that out.

"We only started doing it two months ago but it has already proved its worth. We also do cholesterol testing and possibly in future will do blood glucose levels as a test for diabetes.

"So many people feel they do not want to go to see the doctor and we can do a test with the minimum of fuss here in the shop and suggest people go to their GP for further investigation if necessary.

"I knew straight away there was something very wrong in Mr Chick's case and I am very pleased he did take my advice.

"It is great that this story had a happy ending."