A WOMAN whose sporting aspirations were thrown into jeopardy when she suffered severe facial injuries while on a training cycle ride has personally thanked the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAAS) team which flew her to hospital.
Zoe Neasham, 43, from Holystone, Newcastle, was training for an Ironman UK triathlon when the incident happened.
She said: “I was riding down a hill when I suddenly hit a pothole, and struggled to keep control of the bike. I ended up flying over the handlebars and landed face first onto the tarmac in front of me.
“I hit the whole right side of my face which caused a massive scrape, and was left with multiple facial injuries including a crushed jaw, four teeth knocked out, torn and lost tissue and deep cuts.”
The incident happened at Rothbury, Northumberland, in April last year. GNAAS attended and after treatment on scene flew Mrs Neasham to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
The mother-of-two said: “The GNAAS team’s level of care was outstanding, and they were so gentle and kind. I felt very safe and secure, which made a whole lot of difference, as it was the lowest point in my life.
“I just remember the charity’s doctor, Jeff Doran, holding my hand on the flight, but I am incredibly indebted to everyone who helped me.”
Mrs Neasham has undergone several operations including facial reconstruction and dental surgery.
She said: “Having facial injuries knocks your self-esteem and I was terrified to go back on a bike, but knowing that I could do something to help GNAAS pushed me to train again, and I completed Ironman UK this year, so I could raise some money for the charity.”
Mrs Neasham visited the GNAAS air base at Langwathby and was reunited with the team who came to her aid.
Dr Doran said: “Zoe’s case really stuck with me because I am cyclist and my wife is also a cyclist. It makes you realise that injuries like that can happen to anyone. It’s great to hear that she’s back on her bike and this incident hasn’t put her off competing in triathlons.”
Since the incident, Jack Laverty, 18, a coach at North Tyneside Swimming Club, which Mrs Neasham and her two daughters are members of, organised a swimming gala in aid of GNAAS and managed to raise more than £1,700.
Mrs Neasham also handed over a £2,000 donation to the charity and plans to take part in a sponsored half marathon in September to raise even more money for them.
To help support Mrs Neasham’s fundraising efforts for GNAAS, please donate via her just giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zoe-neash