Sheffield gran’s emotional reunion with boy whose life she saved on bus

A grandmother has been reunited with the boy whose life she saved on a Sheffield bus.

Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 5:36 pm

Philippa Abbott rushed to the rescue when six-year-old Charlie Wilkins began choking on a sweet on the number 8 bus.

The youngster’s grateful mum Laura managed to track down the stranger she described as her son’s ‘guardian angel’, and arranged to meet yesterday so she could say a proper thank you.

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Charlie Wilkins with his mum Laura

Philippa, who it turns out lives just moments away from Charlie and his mum in Base Green, told how it had been an emotional reunion.

“It was brilliant seeing Charlie again, who gave me a big hug,” said the 57-year-old DJ, who has three children and seven grandchildren.

“He's a lovely boy and his mum’s lovely too. We’ll definitely stay in touch, especially since it turns out we live on the same road nearly.

Philippa Abbott, pictured with Charlie Wilkins. Picture: NSST-08-04-19-Wilkins-2

“I’m just glad he’s OK. I was just in the right place at the right time, and I did what anyone would have done.”

Philippa was heading back from town, where she had been shopping for DIY materials, when she heard Philippa’s cries for help last Monday, April 1.

By the time she reached Charlie, his lips were already turning blue and she wasted no time in bending him over and giving him a few 'whacks' on the back before he coughed up the sweet.

She told how she had used some of the know-how she had picked up from her husband Stephen, who works for a gas company and regularly attends first aid training.

“It was part panic, part bits I remembered from Stephen's training, and it was such a relief when Charlie spat out the sweet,” she said.

“I think he was probably more scared at the time of this daft woman running up and whacking him than he was of choking.

“My grandson was choking once and I remember my son got to him first and did basically the same thing I did. It’s terrifying when it’s happening to someone you love.

“I was able to stay a bit calmer on this occasion, but if it was happening to one of my grandchildren I would have been the one screaming for help.

“It makes you think when something like this happens that this is something everyone should know how to do.”

Laura told how it had been great to see Philippa again in more relaxed circumstances.

“It was so emotional and quite overwhelming to meet her. She even bought Charlie a little colouring book, which was so sweet of her. She's such an amazing woman and it turns out we have mutual friends,” said the 31-year-old hairdresser.

“I think if I was on a bus now and I heard a child choking maybe I would know what to do, but when it comes to your own child you just panic.”


If the child is aged over one and is unable to remove the object by coughing, the NHS advises people in the first instance to:

– Lay a small child face down on your lap as you would a baby

– If this isn't possible, support your child in a forward-leaning position and give five back blows from behind

– If back blows don't relieve the choking and your baby or child is still conscious, give chest thrusts to infants under one year or abdominal thrusts to children over one year. This will create an artificial cough, increasing pressure in the chest and helping to dislodge the object

– To give abdominal thrusts, stand or kneel behind your child and place your arms under their arms and around their upper abdomen

– Clench your fist and place it between the navel and ribs.

– Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards

– Repeat up to five times

– Make sure you don't apply pressure to the lower ribcage, as this may cause damage

If this fails to work, further advice on what to do is available on the NHS website here, which also has information on what to do for a child aged under one.