World War II veteran Captain Sir Tom Moore captured the attention of the whole nation in spring 2020 when he set himself a challenge to walk 100 laps of his garden to raise funds for the NHS. His achievement and phenomenal fundraising success were recognised around the world. He has also influenced and inspired several other fundraisers closer to home. Lucy McIlroy, from Northam near Bideford, is among them.

Lucy was involved in an horrific road traffic collision in October last year and suffered multiple severe injuries. Driving home from work on the North Devon link road Lucy remembers seeing a car coming towards her, on the wrong side of the road. Despite swerving onto the grass verge, Lucy’s car was hit head-on, trapping Lucy and knocking her unconscious.

As she came around, Lucy tried to move but was aware of a lady and two Royal Marines by her side, all advising that she must stay still. The following minutes are still a blur for Lucy, and she has no memory of the two Devon Air Ambulances that attended the incident. But she does remember being in the helicopter and pulling on the flight suit of one paramedic, to be reassured that they were only ten minutes from hospital.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s husband was completely unaware of the accident until he saw an article on DevonLive, the county’s online newspaper, with a photo of his wife’s car at the scene. In a state of shock, he called local hospitals, including North Devon District, Royal Devon and Exeter and Musgrove Park. None had admitted his wife. He also called the Police, who initially (surprisingly) said they’d had no accidents reported. At 8pm that evening, however, a police officer did call him back, with the news that his wife had been involved in an accident and conveyed by Air Ambulance to the Major Trauma Centre at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

After a worrying drive, on arrival at Derriford he learned that Lucy had suffered significant breaks to her pelvis, hip and right leg including breaks to the head of the femur, the femur itself, knee and ankle. Lucy was in traction for the following two weeks before major surgery to completely replace her shattered pelvis and hip and secure a titanium rod in her femur. There followed six weeks in Derriford before ten days in North Devon District Hospital and a further two months in South Molton Hospital, before returning to NDDH for another 7 weeks. Lucy finally returned home in March this year.

Having paid a small additional fee on her car insurance for legal assistance, Lucy has been supported since coming home with regular physiotherapy, a support worker, a case manager and necessary adaptations to her home, for which she is eternally grateful.

As well as help with her physical recovery she has also needed a great deal of psychiatric help as she battled with the symptoms of PTSD. Since her return home from hospital in March, she has yet to leave her house as she is so fearful of any traffic. But Lucy is slowly rebuilding her life. As she is now learning to walk with crutches, she has set herself a challenge.

Having watched Sir Captain Tom complete his walk, I was inspired to do something to raise funds for the Air Ambulance that had saved my life. I was in hospital for 144 days, so have decided to challenge myself to walk 144 steps unsupported! It may not sound much but, at the moment, it’s an absolute dream. I know I have to set small goals to improve both my physical and mental well-being and, if I can raise funds for Devon Air Ambulance by achieving this goal, it will be even more worthwhile.

It's thanks to your fantastic support and incredible fundraisers like Lucy, that our air ambulance service and expert crews can keep attending our patients. A one-off or regular gift helps us to reach people in Devon in the most severe, time-critical, emergencies. If you feel you can make a gift then your donation truly does make a difference.

Images:

  • Banner - Lucy is attended to in hospital by a friendly canine visitor
  • Above right - Lucy celebrates Christmas from her hospital bed
  • Above left - Lucy stands on the road to recovery