Kent woman thought fiancé was dying when heart stopped after proposal

Gareth was hospitalised for 12 days before being airlifted back to the UK
-Credit: (Image: Kennedy News and Media)

A woman was left fearing for her new fiancé's life when his heart stopped on the dancefloor just after he had proposed during a romantic holiday. Louise Walkington was enjoying a getaway with her partner Gareth Williams in Kavos, Corfu, earlier this month when he surprised her with a marriage proposal a few days into their trip.

Gareth, a 60-year-old former housing company foreman, chose to propose at the same resort where they had first met while on holiday the previous year. To celebrate both their one-year anniversary and Gareth's milestone birthday, the couple decided to book the same hotel in Corfu where their love story began.

But, after Gareth popped the question, the celebrations took a terrifying turn. While out with friends for some celebratory drinks, Louise's newly engaged partner suddenly collapsed on the dancefloor.

The 56-year-old Sittingbourne resident was terrified that her future husband would die right before her eyes, just hours after they had agreed to tie the knot. Gareth was quickly rushed to a medical centre in Corfu where tests revealed his heart had momentarily stopped on the dancefloor, likely due to a blockage.

His collapse resulted in two broken ribs, a fracture in the lower vertebrae, and fluid in both lungs from the fall. Gareth was hospitalised for 12 days before being airlifted back to the UK where further investigation showed he had a blockage in his heart.

The mum-of-one, who works as an operations manager, said she easily could've lost her soon-to-be husband before tying the knot. Louise said: "Last year as a joke, he bought a €7 ring and dropped down on one knee and 'proposed' to me as a joke.

"This year, he re-enacted that proposal whilst all our friends were there and did it for real on the apartment balcony where he pulled out a beautiful ring. It was a little bit surreal. I had no idea it was coming.

"We got ready to go out in the evening and went down to a local bar. We had only been there for an hour or so and Gareth was dancing with his friends when he just blacked out and fell and hit his head against the bar.

"He made a bit of a gurgling sound then just went unconscious. I was thinking the worst. I was thinking 'is he going to die in front of my eyes?'

"I was in shock. Within a few seconds, he came round and said his back was hurting."

Gareth added: "I bought the ring and didn't tell anyone about it. It felt like the right time to do it. I'm not getting any younger.

"The proposal went really well. We went out for drinks later on in the night and I remember feeling a fuzzy feeling in my head then I stopped dancing and that's all I remember.

"I remember being sat on a chair and there were lots of people around me. My back was really painful."

Gareth was rushed to a medical centre where he received treatment for two fractured ribs, a cracked lower vertebrae and liquid in both lungs. Following a medevac flight from Greece to the UK, Gareth was taken into care at Kent's Medway Maritime Hospital, where it was confirmed by doctors that he had experienced a heart blockage.

Emphasising the excellent quality of care they received, his partner Louise shared: "The staff were absolutely amazing. The clinic was phenomenal. He had to be airlifted home because he couldn't fly in a normal flight due to the altitude. He went from the Corfu clinic to the airport then he was transported to Medway Hospital for three days."

She continued, speaking about how their ordeal has emphasised the importance of travel insurance: "Our insurance covered everything so we tell everyone now to get insured. We'd have never been able to afford that bill. Looking back now, I was definitely in shock. It was awful. I don't know how to explain it. We're going to get married in 2026 in the same place and get married on the beach in Corfu."

Reflecting on his near-death experience, Gareth explained: "I could've easily died that day. I'm never going to forget the evening! Even if it wasn't what I'd planned. But I'm glad I popped the question before this happened because there was no way of me getting on one knee after!".