A man who broke his back after falling off a ladder has been able to give something back to the medics who got him to the trauma centre in just 12 minutes.
Mike Neville of Rushden had just turned 70 and was having an extension built on his conservatory when he decided to go up a ladder and wash the fascias before the work took place.
But the simple task soon turned into an emergency in February last year.
He said: “I did the fatal thing of not moving the ladder but reaching across.
“I came down the ladder backwards and I landed on my head and it was on a concrete floor.
“I had never had pain like it.
“I didn’t realise I had broken my back.”
His wife called the paramedics as he lay there and they arrived shortly before a land ambulance also responded to the 999 call.
Mr Neville said: “I can remember bits of it, but I was in and out of consciousness.
“Then I saw the helicopter was overheard and thought it was low.
“It landed nearby in Crown Park and they flew me off to Coventry.
“The air ambulance was absolutely superb.
“I remember they said it would take 12 minutes and it took us about 12 minutes to get to Coventry.
“I remember them saying ‘don’t panic, when we get you off the helicopter you will have a team of up to 12 working on you’.”
Mr Neville was taken to the trauma unit in a body brace and neck brace and given CT scans, x-rays and MRI scans when he arrived.
Doctors found he had bruising to the brain, injuries to his leg and a broken vertebrae in his back.
He said: “I was in hospital for 12 days and then for five months after I had to wear a body brace.
“It was a rather traumatic experience in my life.”
Despite the accident, Mr Neville is now back doing all the things he loved before and was delighted that his Rotary club in Rushden was able to donate £2,500 to the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance following a trolley dash around the town’s Waitrose store.
Mr Neville said: “They say every trip costs £1,700 and I have seen it in action.
“Every time it flies over now, it brings back memories.
“We make light of it now, but at the time my wife thought I was a gonner and the family thought the same, there but for the grace of God.
“I am very grateful, it’s a life-saving charity worthy of supporting.
“I have now got a breathing problem with my nose but I am back to normal and leading a normal life, including playing golf and going on holiday.”
He added: “I can’t speak highly enough of the expertise the helicopter crew showed during the flight.
“The speed of the whole operation certainly helped my recovery process.”
The cheque was presented by president Mark Darnell to air ambulance fundraiser Stuart Wilkins at a recent Rotary meeting.