Famous faces support Midlands Air Ambulance

PUBLISHED: 13:56 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:20 05 April 2013

Famous faces support Midlands Air Ambulance

Famous faces support Midlands Air Ambulance

Sporting stars are lining up to support the Midlands Air Ambulance

Two years ago, in one tragic moment, 23 year-old Charlotte Cole from Droitwich lost her life in a horse riding accident. Charlotte was working as head girl for the racehorse trainer Claire Dyson from Froglands Stud Farm in Cleeve Prior.

Charlotte worked for me for six years and one morning when we were working the horses up on the gallops her horse tripped, says Claire. Charlotte lasted another two days in hospital but she didnt really know anything. It was pretty instant.

The air ambulance crew who treated Charlotte were, says Claire, like angels from the sky. The fact they got there so quickly and the way they dealt with the situation probably gave Charlotte those two more days of life and that gave her parents the opportunity to say goodbye. Also, Charlotte was an organ donor, so six people benefited and the air ambulance being there so quickly helped make that happen.

There is no one else to thank, nobody, other than Charlotte for being the person she was. Its been horrific but you have to try to move on in some direction and supporting the air ambulance is a massive help to us. It helps keep her memory alive and ensures she didnt die in vain.

Midlands Air Ambulance serves Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands and on average answers 15 calls a month from injured riders. Equestrian incidents make up eight per cent of call and come fourth after road traffic accidents (50 per cent), medical emergencies, and general falls. Last year the charity attended 158 emergencies involving riders seriously injured in falls from their horses.

Remote access is a key thing with equestrians and the missions we conduct are life-saving. Those patients we attend are really pretty close to needing hospital treatment straight away; its often a life and death situation. You tend to find the nature of these accidents, with the weight of the horse, can be very severe, says Hanna Sebright, chief executive of the Midlands Air Ambulance.

Dressage rider and Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester from Newent, on the border of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, says: The fact eight per cent of airlifts each year are equestrian-related makes you realise how close to an accident you are working with horses. Horses are unpredictable, and this charity is a very important part of our safety.

To help raise the charitys profile Carl has come on board as one of its sporting ambassadors. There was no hesitation when I was asked, he says, I was happy to donate some time to and help with fundraising.

The importance of the charity was highlighted to Carl on New Years Eve when his head girl, Fiona Lawrence, was kicked. Fiona got kicked in the back by a horse, a very safe horse in the stable. He just got excited and didnt realise she was behind him and she fractured two bones in her back, he says.

This time an air ambulance was not needed and Fiona is well on the way to recovery but it could have been so different. It was a wake-up call for us to realise how close we are to an accident, says Carl.

Paralympic dressage rider Lee Pearson from Cheddleton in Staffordshire and fellow Olympic gold medal-winning show jumper Nick Skelton from Alcester, Warwickshire, have also been enlisted. For Nick the air ambulance service is particularly important, for without them he may not have even made it back into the saddle after a riding accident at a show in 2000 left him with two broken vertebrae in his neck.

I am delighted to support the valuable work of all air ambulances and in particular Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, he says. Without the rapid emergency assistance and medical care I received from the air ambulance and its crew on that fateful day, I doubt whether I would have come through without some form of paralysis. I, like many other individuals, owe a debt of gratitude to their tireless work.

Joining the three riders as ambassadors are rugby players Mike Tindall (Gloucester) and Andy Goode (Worcester Warriors). The service responds to an average of 12 sporting relating incidents per month, many rugby-related. These can often be life-threatening and, due to the physical nature of the sport, lead to head, neck and spinal trauma.

I have always been an advocate of the amazing work of the air ambulance charities and our military search and rescue services of the RAF and Royal Navy. Throughout my rugby career I have all too often been reminded of the potentially life-threatening injuries that can occur on the rugby pitch, says Mike.

Andy says: I am honoured and delighted, along with Mike, to be able to play a small part in supporting the great work of the Midlands Air Ambulance and to help raise awareness to the general public and the wider rugby community. Its a service that many of us take for granted, yet it is vital that we all support this amazing service that saves lives day in, day out.

The air ambulance service is funded entirely by donations. It receives no money from the Government or the National Lottery and 6 million is needed annually to keep its three air ambulances airborne. These are based at Strensham Services on the M5 in Worcestershire, Cosford Air Base, near Shifnal in Shropshire and Tatenhill Air Base, near Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire.

I think its amazing that they can keep what we saw that day on the road by donations, says Claire. An accident can happen to anyone and people should dig deep and support when they can.

Charlottes parents run CK Racing (www.ckracing.co.uk) in memory of their daughter, selling equestrian products and clothing in aid of the Midlands Air Ambulance and Racing Welfare.

To support the Midlands air Ambulance visit www.midlandsairambulance.com

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