A WOMAN who survived a life-threatening horse riding incident has backed a campaign to keep the region’s air ambulance flying.
Suzanne Sharp, 49, from Bywell, Stocksfield, was thrown from her horse, Zephyr, while riding in wintery conditions in Simonburn, Northumberland.
The fall left her with a spinal injury and unconscious for more than two hours.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was called and flew to help Mrs Sharp.
Recalling the aftermath of the incident, in January 2011, Mrs Sharp said: “I had a swelling in the middle of my back and there was growing concerns between the doctor and paramedic that I might have damaged my spinal cord.
“I remember saying, ‘please don’t leave me alone’, and the doctor kept holding my hand and making eye-contact all the way to the hospital, reassuring me that everything was going to be ok.”
After the accident, Mrs Sharp was unable to walk for more than 16 weeks, yet she was determined that she would still compete the Great North Run the same year.
Despite being told by her consultant that the “odds were against her”, she finished the half-marathon in just over two hours.
She has also completed the Cyclone Cycling Challenge raising money for GNAAS.
She is now encouraging others to help out by donating £3 a month through the charity’s regular text giving service during National Air Ambulance Week, which runs from September 19 to 25.
Mrs Sharp said: “Without the Great North Air Ambulance Service, I would not be able to ride my bike or my horse, or even walk again.
Mandy Drake, head of fundraising at GNAAS, said: “We would like to thank Suzanne for supporting GNAAS since her accident.
“It’s fantastic to see her recovering so well, and it’s always a special moment to see success stories like this, which would not be possible without the support and generosity we receive from the public.
“We hope Suzanne’s story inspires other people to get behind the charity during National Air Ambulance Week.”
National Air Ambulance Week runs every year. It aims to raise awareness and boost the fundraising efforts of UK air ambulances.
To support GNAAS this National Air Ambulance Week, text SAVELIVES to 70660. To find out more, visit gnaas.com/naaw