Clare Devlin, 47, retail selling assistant

It was just a usual Sunday and I was pottering around helping customers when I heard a horrible sound. I never saw the man collapse, but the noise he made when he hit the ground was something I will never forget. I went over to see what the commotion was and there was a lot of people standing around.

I checked his pulse and asked him to open his eyes. I was even nipping the back of his hand and he wasn’t responding to anything, so I panicked for a split second because I realised he wasn’t breathing. But then I said to myself ‘there’s no time for that, you need to get on with it’, and I shouted to a manager to phone an ambulance because he was in cardiac arrest.

A customer came out of the crowd and said that she wasn’t first aid trained but that she could do the chest compressions for me while I did mouth to mouth. I didn’t even have time to think about my own emotions. In training you are told to do the compressions to the rhythm of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees, but when it actually comes to it that is the last thing you are thinking about. He was touch and go – I would think he had started breathing and then he would stop again. I could hear that there was still a crowd around but I was just completely focused on the gentleman I was working on: adrenalin just kicks in and keeps you going.

It took a while for the ambulance to arrive and set up their equipment so I ended up doing CPR for 22 minutes, but it felt like hours because it is physically exhausting. The paramedics managed to get his heart beating and they decided to take him into the ambulance – but while they were moving him from the shop his heart stopped and he had to get more CPR.

While it was happening I was so focused I didn’t have time to consider it all, but when I got home it really hit me and I thought ‘wow, what just happened?’ I got absolutely no sleep that night because I couldn’t stop thinking about the man and how he was.

On the Monday when I went back into work I phoned his partner to see how he was. I was completely dreading the phone call because I didn’t know how I would deal with it if it was bad news. Luckily she said that he was stable in hospital and I just felt utter relief. At the end of my shift my manager came over and told me there was someone into see me. She said: 'It’s the brother of the guy who collapsed, you actually saved his life.'

He had come in to thank me on his way to the hospital and he had got me a bunch of flowers, a card and a bottle of champagne. I was gobsmacked.

When something like that goes on it doesn’t leave you, and every time I walk past the spot where it happened I wonder how he is and what he is doing. I don’t think I will ever forget it.