The family of a cyclist who suffered a cardiac arrest have thanked hospital staff and police for their support after his life-support machine was switched off.

Gary Woodward, who was a life-long member of Chippenham Wheelers Cycling Club and lived in Calne, was found unconscious and not breathing at the side of Blacklands Road, in Flaxlands, near Royal Wootton Bassett, on June 20.

A paramedic in a rapid-response vehicle, a road ambulance and the Wiltshire Air Ambulance attended, together with four police cars, and after paramedics succeeded in restarting his heart,

Mr Woodward was rushed to Bristol Royal Infirmary to receive treatment.

But the time he was not breathing left Mr Woodward severely brain damaged and on Saturday – his 68th birthday – doctors took the decision to switch off his life-support machine.

However Mr Woodward has continued to breathe unaided.

Jackie, Mr Woodward’s ex-wife and mother of his 47-year-old only son, Duane, said the family was devastated .

She said: “I’m just so shocked. Duane is absolutely devastated. We can’t really believe what’s happened.”

Doctors are unable to explain what could have happened to trigger the cardiac arrest.

“It was a cardiac arrest, not a heart attack, but all cardiac arrests have a trigger and they have no idea what caused it," said Jackie.

“When doctors took us in and told Duane that they were considering taking him off the life-support machine Duane got quite upset.

"He was saying how he would have to make the decision but the doctors said no, they were making the decision – he didn’t have to take the responsibility for it, which was so kind of them.

“All the hospital staff have been so good to Gary, and to us as well, and really taken care of us.

“They even found us a room with a bathroom in the British Heart Institute so we could stay with him overnight.”

Jackie and Duane also wanted to thank the police for their support, and to find the driver of the SEB van who called the emergency services to Gary’s aid.

Jackie said: “There was an SEB van driver who spotted him sitting on the side of the road, who asked him how he was.

“He said he didn’t feel very well but would just sit down for a minute.

“When the driver came back from dropping off his mate he found Gary unconscious and not breathing, and it was he who called the ambulance.

“The police were so good as well. They looked after his bike for us and I know they are just doing their job, but we so appreciated their support.”