A TEACHER who suffered an eight-hour heart attack last year and was saved by paramedics is windsurfing 1,000 nautical miles as a thank you to his 999 heroes.

Lea Spencer has set himself the challenge of reaching speeds of more than 35 knots and sailing 1,000 nautical miles to boost awareness of the paramedics’ life-saving work and raise £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation.

The 37-year-old, of Dorchester Road, Weymouth said: “On February 13, 2010 in the middle of the night I suffered a heart attack that lasted over eight hours.

“My life was saved by the paramedics and recovery was ensured by the doctors and nurses at Dorchester hospital.

“This is my way of giving something back through a sport that I love.”

Recent strong winds have seen the Royal Manor School maths teacher out on the water as much as possible, with the support of the Portland Pirates speed sailors, he has so far raised £700 and hopes to hit 616nm.

Lea can clearly recall suffering the heart attack, he said: “At about 3am I woke up with my hands over my head pumping them together not really knowing what I was doing.

“I remember my girlfriend Kat waking next to me and asking if I was okay.

“My triceps felt like I had been over working them for hours and my chest felt a bit like when I was a kid after we piled on each other on the field at school, that sort of light but crushed feeling, not painful at all.”

Lea blamed the pain on a back injury and refused to call an ambulance but the next morning when he had still not recovered he called NHS Direct.

He said: “As soon as I put the phone down the flashing lights were outside. The paramedics took me into the ambulance and connected me up to the machines.

“They told me they were quite certain I was having a heart attack and asked me to sign a consent form for them to administer a drug to thin my blood.

“They told me I had a two per cent chance of dying due to the drug, but some instinct inside me tells me that it saved my life.

“Dorset is one of the few counties where the paramedics can do this.”

Lea can remember his girlfriend staying by his side and the impressive speed of the ambulance.

His heart attack finally stopped at Dorset County Hospital at about 11am and just five weeks after the episode, Lea was back out on the water.

He believes his hobby has aided his recovery and the challenger will be taking part in a national windsurfing festival at Hayling Island in September and this year’s Weymouth Speed Week in October as a guest entry. Follow Lea’s progress and donate online at redsurfbus.blogspot.com/