A WOMAN has started training for a half-marathon in memory of her brother who died in a serious motorcycle collision.
Sophie Laidler, 29, will tackle the Great North Run for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) which went to the aid of her brother Michael, after his motorbike collided with a wall in Upper Weardale, County Durham, in August 2015.
Despite the best efforts of emergency services, Michael, 22, from West Rainton, Houghton-le-Spring, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
Miss Laidler, a PHD student in archaeology at Durham University, said: “Michael has been a huge inspiration for this challenge.
“He lived life to the full. I’m really nervous about it but he would tell me to just get on with it.”
Speaking of the accident, she said: “My older brother David who was there at the time, told us how wonderful GNAAS were and how quickly they responded.
“They were in a rural location with no phone signal and David had to run to a nearby cottage to call for help. In a situation where time is of the essence, it is reassuring to know that in the worst moments of your life, no matter how remote of a location you are in, the GNAAS can get to you.
“Before then we knew very little about the good work they do, but we’ve learned so much about the services that they provide to the region and how many lives they save.”
Miss Laidler will complete the challenge with friend, James Taylor, 30, from Durham, and they have high hopes of raising lots of cash for the charity.
She said: “The GNAAS crew are completely selfless and I think that it is a tragedy that they have to rely on donations to continue saving lives.
“We are so grateful to everyone before us who has raised money to keep the service going so that they could be there for Michael.”
Miss Laidler, her father Trevor Laidler and Mr Taylor visited the GNAAS’ Langwathby airbase on February 2 to thank paramedic Terry Sharpe and pilot Owen McTeggart who were at the scene of James’s accident. She said: “It was wonderful to meet such kind, hardworking and dedicated people. We wanted to express our gratitude for all they did in person.”
Paramedic Mr Sharpe said: “It is always a poignant moment when we meet the family of a patient who has sadly died. We are hugely grateful to them for their continued fundraising efforts which help us to stay in the air. We are indebted.”
If you missed out on a Great North Run ballot place and want to run for charity, visit here.