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Pay it Forward - Guest Blogger: Julie Hawker

Julie Hawker and Charlie

Julie with Charlie the Horse

On the morning Thursday 16th August I suffered a multiple, open compound leg fracture whilst out horse-riding (or should that be horse-falling-off!). The Devon Air Ambulance (the North Devon one) arrived on the scene once paramedics had done their assessment and I was whisked away to RD&E Hospital in Exeter for treatment and surgery.  The crew on the Air Ambulance were not only professional and clear, they also provided lots of reassurance for both me and my family who were on the scene by then. It’s not necessarily my preference to have experienced the benefits of the service first-hand (!), but it has made me truly recognise how very valuable and needed the air ambulance is.”

This is an extract from my email to Helena Holt, CEO of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust within days of being discharged from hospital. I’ve known Helena for a few years now as our paths have crossed many times in the course of our work. My work at Cosmic [www.cosmic.org.uk] involves supporting lots of organisations and businesses in the local area in their development in IT, web and social media.  I just had to contact Helena direct and let her know how grateful I was for not just the service I received, but also for the existence of the Air Ambulance and everything which she and her team do to keep it running.

Since that time my recovery has been good, but very slow and often frustrating. My treatment has involved fitting of an ‘Ilizarov frame’ – which resembles a mecanno construction (*you’ll have to be of a certain age to know this one) of rings, pins and wires around and through my leg to help it mend and heal. Thanks to the professional medical skills at the hospital, I should make a full recovery and be back on my feet again within months.  But it all could have been very, very different. If I hadn’t been given swift transport and immediate treatment, then severe damage to my limb could have meant irreparable damage and a very different outlook from here on.

I’ve been having to spend most of the past 10 weeks in bed and resting, and mainly with my leg elevated to reduce swelling and pain. There have been infections and set-backs, but I have fought back with bone-healing food stuffs and acupuncture! I am not at all the type to stay indoors or lie around so it’s not been easy. But all the time I have reminded myself just how fortunate I have been, and how I owe it to the dedicated and highly effective professionals who provided my rescue and treatment to recover fully now. I have become an expert in home working and video-conferencing (a tip to share is that you can get away with a skype call in your PJs – just brush your hair, put a nice jumper over the top and slap on a bit of make-up!).

I also know this experience has meant that my determination to help with further support and fundraising for Devon Air Ambulance Trust is sky high! (pun totally intended). I’ve been doing what I can to encourage and support friends and family with various fundraising including a BBQ and fun afternoon at the farm livery where Charlie horse is stabled, sponsorship for friends taking part in the Commando Challenge a few weeks ago, and getting my mum to donate her old furniture to our local Trade and Donate recycling service. It all helps.

I’ve worked out that although the £4.5 million required to keep the DAAT helicopters in the sky sounds a huge amount, if every person living in Devon was to donate just £3.65 (just a penny a day!) each then we’d have enough to fund the service.  Easy!

So I am now dreaming up lots of ideas for fundraisers for 2013 when I’ll be fit and raring to go and in the meantime I am going to volunteer some time with the team at Devon Air Ambulance and provide them with some training and support. And I just can’t wait.

A good motto in life is ‘pay it forward’ – we are often not able to directly repay people for their support, care and service to us; but we can always find ways to provide support so that other people can gain similar benefits.

If you would like to read more about Julie’s road to recovery why not take a look at her own blog http://dontfalloff.wordpress.com/

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