Nicola runs in memory of tragic friend


A support worker at Newcastle University will take part in the Great North Run in memory of her best friend who died in a motorbike crash last year. Nicola Hawdon, 25, will raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which airlifted but could not save Gemma Kay in the aftermath of the incident in Washington, Tyne and Wear. Miss Kay, 23, was riding pillion on her boyfriend’s motorbike when a car pulled out of a junction in front of them, causing the collision, on April 26. Both rider and passenger were thrown from the bike, leaving the rider with a broken leg and Miss Kay with multiple serious injuries, including a serious head injury. GNAAS was called to the incident and worked alongside North East Ambulance Service paramedics on scene before airlifting the patient to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle. Miss Kay was anaesthetised by the GNAAS doctor-led aircrew and given blood before she was airlifted.

A support worker at Newcastle University will take part in the Great North Run in memory of her best friend who died in a motorbike crash last year.

Nicola Hawdon, 25, will raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which airlifted but could not save Gemma Kay in the aftermath of the incident in Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Miss Kay, 23, was riding pillion on her boyfriend’s motorbike when a car pulled out of a junction in front of them, causing the collision, on April 26.

Both rider and passenger were thrown from the bike, leaving the rider with a broken leg and Miss Kay with multiple serious injuries, including a serious head injury.

GNAAS was called to the incident and worked alongside North East Ambulance Service paramedics on scene before airlifting the patient to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle.

Miss Kay was anaesthetised by the GNAAS doctor-led aircrew and given blood before she was airlifted. Her boyfriend was taken to the RVI by road.

Miss Hawdon, an admin student support officer, ran the race in 2011 but decided to follow up her efforts this year in aid of GNAAS.

She said: “When I found out that Gemma had died in the collision I was absolutely heartbroken and devastated. She was like a sister to me, so it will be nice to honour her in this way.”

Miss Hawdon and her partner Chris Marshall recently visited the GNAAS airbase at Durham Tees Valley Airport to meet paramedic Stuart Thompson who was one of those who battled to save Miss Kay.

She said: “I just wanted to thank everyone for everything they did for Gemma, it wasn’t the outcome we all wanted but their efforts were fantastic.”

It was an emotional visit for Miss Hawdon as she sought closure from the crew who assisted her best friend.

Miss Hawdon said: “I have so much respect for GNAAS, they help people who are seriously in need. People wouldn’t be able to spend more time or say goodbye to their family members and friends if it was for their life-saving efforts. They are amazing.”

Miss Hawdon will begin training shortly and said she hopes to be carried along by the encouragement of the crowd, as happened in her previous run.

She said: “I remember running over the Tyne Bridge and all I was thinking was ‘what am I doing?’, then from the crowd I heard someone shout to me ‘Go on Nicola, you can do it!’, it was a huge boost.”

To support Miss Hawdon, visit https://www.justgiving.com/Nicola-Hawdon1

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