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Kitchener man honoured by Canadian military after saving his best friend’s life

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What started as a round of golf between two childhood friends from Kitchener ended in a medical emergency. Now one of the men involved is being honoured for saving his friend's life.

Lewis Pilgrim and Jamie Demetriou first met in elementary school when they were only 8-years-old. They stayed best friends for more than four decades, even after Pilgrim joined the military and moved to Halifax.

On Tuesday, Pilgrim was recognized by the Canadian Armed Forces with the Defence Staff Commendation – an honour given for deeds or activities beyond the demands of normal duty.

Lewis Pilgrim with his military honour. (CTV Atlantic)

GOLF GONE WRONG

In the summer of 2022, the pair were playing a round of golf in Halifax when the unexpected happened. Pilgrim went to take his swing and when he looked back at Jamie, he couldn’t see him.

“I walked around the golf cart and noticed by best friend was laying down in the foot of the golf cart,” he recalled. “That’s when I checked him for his vital signs, so breathing and heartrate, and he didn't have any of it so that's when I started doing CPR on him.”

Pilgrim’s quick thinking helped saved Demetriou’s life.

But Demetriou said he didn’t remember any of it.

“Next thing you know I was in an ambulance,” he explained.

The 51-year-old was told he went into cardiac arrest. Demetriou said they didn’t know why and he didn’t have any medical issues beforehand.

Jamie Demetriou and Lewis Pilgrim in an undated photo. (Courtesy: Lewis Pilgrim Sr.)

Pilgrim knew what the do to help his friend after learning basic CPR in the military and becoming a first aid instructor in recent years.

Demetriou said he’s grateful for it.

“If I was anywhere else, if it would have happened at dinner the night before. If it happened in my sleep or the morning of at breakfast, I wouldn't be here,” admitted Demetriou. “It’s pretty crazy when you think about it.”

PROUD FATHER

Pilgrim’s father, Lewis Pilgrim Sr., was in Halifax to watch his son be honoured and said he couldn’t be more proud.

He added the bond between the two friends is admirable.

“Seeing both of them together and how they care for each other… It is so great to see,” Lewis Pilgrim Sr. said.

Lewis Pilgrim Sr. (left) and Lewis Pilgrim (middle) at the military ceremony in Halifax. (CTV Atlantic)

"COULDN’T ASK FOR A BETTER FRIEND"

Pilgrim said he’d do anything for Demetriou and saving his life came naturally.

“We’ve always been there for each other through good times and bad times,” he said. “My best friend is the type of friend that would give you the shirt off his back. Couldn’t ask for a better friend.”

Demetriou said he can’t thank Pilgrim enough. He said he’s proud that his friend is being recognized for his actions but joked that he should be thanked too.

“I’m glad I could help him out,” joked Demetriou.

The pair try to meet every year. They plan to reunite again over the holidays this year and this time in Waterloo Region.

Their goal is to take more pictures together and thanks to Pilgrim’s heroic act – they’ll have many more chances.

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