ROLAND Butt knows he was lucky to describe his heart attack and subsequent rescue from a Coffs Harbour beach as a 'blessing in disguise' and 'new chance at life.'
Thankful to be alive, he has commended the people who came to his rescue.
He was exercising on Jetty Beach with his partner Silvana Camilleri on Wednesday evening when he struggled to breathe in the surf.
Struggling to keep his head above water and in a state of panic he blacked out.
"I didn't know I was having a heart attack, I had breathlessness and tightness in the chest, I knew I was in trouble as I called out for help, but there was no sudden chest pain.
"Two board riders saw I was in distress and with a woman we know came to my rescue.
"The last thing I remember I was going under water and then I woke up in hospital the next morning, not knowing what had happened, it was terrible like a nightmare I couldn't wake from."
Ambulance paramedics stabilised Roland on the beach and used a 4WD to rush him to the Coffs Harbour Hospital in a critical condition.
Silvana said she feared the worst, as the frightening turn of events played out.
"He was not in a good way at all, I thought I had lost him," Silvana said.
"Initially, the doctors in emergency thought he had drowned because he didn't complain of having chest pains then they thought he may have suffered a stroke
"When they suspected it was a heart attack scans revealed that two of his arteries were 90% blocked, so it really was a blessing in disguise.
"To us it's a miracle he survived, we have to thank the many people who came to his rescue their quick action and diligence saved his life.
Roland, 68, is set to undergo bypass surgery in Sydney this week.
He hopes heart disease won't stop him from treading the boards again with the Coffs Harbour Musical Comedy Company.