Hero comedian saves choking diner in Leighton Buzzard restaurant

Comedian Cerys Nelmes. Picture by Wolf Marloh PNL-190429-142253001
Comedian Cerys Nelmes. Picture by Wolf Marloh PNL-190429-142253001

A quick-thinking comedian is calling on her fellow performers to take first aid lessons, after she saved a woman from choking in a Leighton Buzzard restaurant.

Cerys Nelmes, 41, had enjoyed her dinner at the Cod and Waffle, Theedway, on Saturday, when she heard a customer coughing and went to help.

Cod and Waffle at Greenfields, Theedway. Credit: Google.

Cod and Waffle at Greenfields, Theedway. Credit: Google.

Realising it was serious, Cerys performed the Heimlich manoeuvre around five times and hit the lady on the back, dislodging a little prawn – and all before heading off to a gig in Edlesborough.

She’s now calling on others in the comedy industry to take first aid lessons in case someone is taken ill during a show.

Cerys said: “When I’m gigging all over I find somewhere to eat, and the Cod and Waffle had brilliant scores on Trip Advisor – fish and waffles, what more do you want?

“I was in there on my own and went to the till to pay when I heard this woman start to cough. Her friend got up and started tapping her on the back but I could see she was getting worse.

“She started choking, grabbing at her throat.

“I did the Heimlich manoeuvre five or six times and then gave her five or six massive smacks on the back, and she coughed up this little prawn.”

With paramedics on their way, it was time for Cerys’s gig at Edlesborough School and she said goodbye to the diner who was shaken, but getting her breath back.

Cerys added: “I went to pay but the staff said, ‘It’s on us’, which was very nice.

“I want to start some discussions on comedians’ forums about first aid training. We lost [comedian] Ian Cognito who sat down and passed away on stage in Bicester earlier this month, after joking about his heart condition.

“Paramedics arrived, but he had gone quite peacefully.

“For example, we’re on our own in cars, or in dressing rooms with other comedians, but if nobody’s there who knows first aid...

“After I arrived at the Edlesborough gig I felt in shock. The woman’s lips had been blue and I remember thinking: ‘What if this doesn’t work?’

“I’d had basic first aid training years ago when I was a playground assistant but I’d never learned the Heimlich manoeuvre. I put it down to years of watching TV and being a background paramedic while working as an extra on Casualty. It seemed to be in the back of my mind.”

Flo Afanaj, restaurant manager, praised the comedian for her quick reactions, saying: “Cerys had just eaten at the restaurant and was paying her bill when another customer started to cough/choke.

“Before staff had a chance, she sprung into action, jumping in to deliver blows to the customer’s back until the item was cleared.

“She was instrumental with her quick actions.”