Daniel, now 38, was just 18 when he was involved in an accident and needed the Air Ambulance to help and convey him to hospital. 

It was July 1998 and Daneil was driving a work van, delivering between Tiverton and Honiton. There was a sharp right bend but he didn’t make it and, instead, smacked into a large tree. Daniel was trapped for almost an hour and a half, having fractured both femurs, his left tibia, fibula and kneecap, plus a fracture to his left cheek and a basal skull fracture. He was airlifted to Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

As well as the multiple fractures, he also severed the optic nerve and lost the sight in his left eye as well as losing the hearing in his right ear. Initially this caused some hand-eye coordination issues, although his brain adapted in time. Daniel needed multiple surgeries and spent time ventilated and sedated in Intensive Care. One of his first memories when he came round from an induced coma was of his left leg in a machine that would aid circulation.

Despite starting physiotherapy just 8 days after the accident, Daniel’s recovery was not straightforward and, following various check-ups, in October 1999 medics decided to operate further. The bone, however, still didn’t unite and in July 2001 Daniel learned that he needed a bone graft. He was finally discharged from the fracture clinic in January 2002 – 3.5 years after his accident!

A family holiday to Australia at the end of 2002 was a cause for celebration when Daniel ran across a beach, says Daniel: 

It bought tears to my dad’s eyes after everything that I’d been through.

In 2000, Daniel was a carpet fitter and warehouseman but, by 2003, it became apparent that the ongoing issues with his knees were causing difficulties, so he re-trained as a paint sprayer. That too, however, was tough on his knees and prompted a complete change of direction.

Wanting a more rewarding career, Daniel became a Therapy Assistant at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital in 2013. He completed an NVQ level 3 in Allied Health Professions to become a Rehabilitation Support Worker. He currently works alongside patients recovering from head and spinal cord injuries, strokes and other neurological conditions.

It had been such a long road for me to get back to full strength, I feel that I can really relate to the people I work with and help now,” Daniel explains. “I am part of a great team supporting patients with speech and language therapy, physio and occupational therapy. Every day is so rewarding, I feel my knowledge, skills and passion help enable patients to get the most out of their treatment. Knowing just how far I’ve come since my accident, now happily married with two lovely children, I’m keen to encourage people to recognise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In 2017 it cost £6.4 million to keep Devon's Air Ambulances flying;100% of that sum was made possible thanks to the support of our fundraisers, donors, charity shoppers, lottery players and volunteers. You can support your helicopters in several ways from volunteering to making a regular gift. Find out more.

 Daniel Hopkins with his dad and the paramedic who attended him 20 years ago.

Daniel Hopkins today.

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