A PARAGLIDER who had a serious crash in Great Ayton has thanked the doctor and paramedic team from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) as he prepares to raise money for the charity.
Jonathan Thomas, 53, from Darlington, was paragliding with some friends on 17 July 2018 and had taken off from Captain Cook’s Monument for the second time that day when the weather changed dramatically, causing him to crash at an old quarry nearby.
Recalling the incident, Mr Thomas said: “I was unpacking my glider getting it all ready to fly again, testing it making sure everything was fine, and flew off, and next minute I know I’m hurtling to the ground.”
GNAAS were called to the scene and worked alongside Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team and Yorkshire Ambulance Service to assess and treat Mr Thomas.
He was then airlifted to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, with a flight time of just four minutes.
Mr Thomas broke his foot, two ribs and a hand, and also sustained a spinal compression fracture which caused damage to his right-hand side below his waist, making it difficult for him to walk unaided.
He stayed in hospital for nearly three months before continuing his recovery at home and is now able to walk short distances without the need for crutches.
Mr Thomas said: “It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, a lot of tears, I take each day as it is. It’s life changing, it’s going to change my life.”
He is now hoping to do a sponsored kayak in aid of GNAAS from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland with some people he met in hospital who have also sustained spinal injuries.
Mr Thomas said: “We just want to try and raise as much money as we can for them because without them I don’t know whether my injuries would have been worse by the time I got to hospital or how long it would have took me to get off the hill really because I was quite high up and in the middle of nowhere.
“To me they saved my life, that’s the way I see it, and they do a fantastic job.”
Last year GNAAS was called out 1062 times and needed to raise £5.1m. To find out how you can help, please visit www.gnaas.com or call 01325-487263.