Peter McMullan is the sort of neighbour we would all like to have.
The Coleraine man has been hailed a hero for rescuing his elderly neighbour after she collapsed at home with a suspected stroke.
Peter (38) had just returned from a weekend break away to his home in Willowfield Drive when another neighbour said he had not seen Eleanor Cherry for a few days.
The two men took a look around Mrs Cherry’s home and noticed the lights were left on and her pet cats were running around inside.
Mr McMullan, a lecturer at the Northern Regional College, could hear distressed breathing through an open window, so he immediately climbed into the property to discover his neighbour, who is in her 80s, lying in the hallway of her home.
He said: “Mrs Cherry had obviously fallen and the telephone was pulled out of its socket.
“I unlocked the doors and other neighbours came to lend a hand. We rang for an ambulance and waited with Mrs Cherry.
“I reached out to her and she took my hand. She wouldn’t let go, so I comforted her until the medics arrived to take her away.
“She is a former school teacher and usually such a talkative, sharp women. It was very upsetting as she couldn’t move or speak.
“The ambulance arrived and took her away very quickly to the Causeway Hospital. The paramedics said it was lucky we found her when we did, as she was in pretty bad shape and very badly dehydrated.
“She had hit her head on a radiator and had suffered from a bad stroke. She has come round now but is still being monitored and I believe she will be in hospital for quite a while.”
The modest Coleraine man was keen to highlight he had help from neighbours and was just doing what anyone else would have done.
“I found her stepson’s number in a notebook and alerted them straight away. They thanked me, but it wasn’t just me — a group effort was involved.
“I know people have experienced all kinds, but it’s one of the most traumatic things I have ever had to deal with.”
Mr McMullan feels this incident should serve as a timely reminder for everyone in the community to visit elderly neighbours and check on their wellbeing.
“People should keep an eye out for older people,” he said.
“It takes 10 seconds to knock a door and say hello.”
“It is awful to think of her lying there on her own. I only wish I had returned home a day or two earlier.”