Chesterfield pub doorman bounces back from heart attack to gain bodyguard qualifications

A heart attack survivor who works as a doorman at pubs in Chesterfield has earned qualifications enabling him to work as a bodyguard.
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Gary Topley, 44, is looking forward to a bright future after being told by doctors just over a year ago that he could easily have died. He said: “It was a bad heart attack; the hospital told me it was caused by stress and high cholesterol. I had stents fitted in my left and right arteries.

"I now go to the gym more and I changed my diet for a bit. I feel healthier than before I had my heart attack.”Being fit and healthy is essential if Gary is to secure a job as a bodyguard. He has just gained qualifications in intelligence analysis, intelligence operations, close protection, cyber awareness, first aid at work and mental health awareness after completing a course at The Savant Training Academy at South Tyneside College.

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Gary Topley has gained the necessary qualifications to become a bodyguard.Gary Topley has gained the necessary qualifications to become a bodyguard.
Gary Topley has gained the necessary qualifications to become a bodyguard.

Gary, of St Augustines Avenue, Chesterfield, said: "Close protection is the highest you can get in the security industry. A lot of people who watch films think it’s about jumping in front of someone who has been shot at but you have to do route planning, you have to do surveillance where you follow people and you’ve got to do formations when you get out of the car. I don’t plan to get shot anytime soon.”

He’s been keen to get into close protection work for seven years and said: “I like a challenge and I’ve always wanted a well paid job. It’s about bettering myself and to show people that because they have an obstacle in their life, it doesn’t mean they can’t overcome it.

"In my life I've never really stuck at anything - I've been one of those who have done a bit of work and stopped doing it because I’ve lost interest. I'm glad and proud that I've started to do something, followed it through and have got something to show for it."

A recovering alcoholic, Gary has stayed off the booze for 14 years. “Sometimes it’s been difficult,” he admitted, “but I put it to the back of my mind and try to focus on what I'm doing now. I wouldn’t have been able to do this qualification if I’d still been drinking. I wouldn’t be able to protect someone’s life if I turned up drunk.”

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At entry level a bodyguard can command £190 a day while an experienced operator can pull in £400. Gary hopes that his links with celebrities Chico and Jason Burrill, who sent him messages of support while he was recovering from his heart attack, Daniella Westbrook and Gary Lineker’s brother Wayne, whom he met at an awards ceremony last year, could open the right doors for him.

Dad of two Gary, who currently works at four pubs and one nightclub in the Chesterfield area, is keen to resume his studies for a BSc in cyber security which were put on hold following his health scare. He said: “I’m hoping to do close protection work until at least my mid fifties. After that, your body starts to slow down so I’ll concentrate on cyber security work.” People going into that area of employment start on an annual salary of £40,000.

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