Just a few months after the service started, on Good Friday in 1993, 11-year old Harry Staniland decided to cycle from his home in Buckland-in-the-Moor to his friend’s house in Ashburton. Sadly, en route, Harry came out of a junction and into the path of a car.

With the driver in a state of shock, the driver from a following vehicle immediately raced to a nearby house to use the telephone, calling for emergency help.

Harry’s Mum, Mary, picks up the story. “Harry always used to call us from his friend’s house to let us know when he’d arrived and I was surprised that on this occasion I hadn’t heard from him. The next thing I knew was a frantic call from his friend’s father saying ‘There’s been an accident. Harry’s been airlifted to hospital and it looks bad.’” The family had heard the helicopter circling overhead and seen it land nearby. They realised that the lad on a bike involved in the accident had to be Harry.

As Mary and her husband Charles rushed to Derriford, their heads were spinning with what they might be told on arrival. Being taken to a side-room to await the Doctor, they feared the worst. Mary continued, “Hearing the words ‘He’s alive’ was such an enormous relief! Harry had suffered a broken leg and broken arm and other cuts and bruises and medics still didn’t know the extent of any brain damage, but just the relief of hearing he was alive was huge.”

Miraculously Harry didn’t suffer a brain injury.  He had been wearing a polystyrene cycle helmet which undoubtedly saved him. He was in Derriford for 2 weeks and then home for many weeks of rehabilitation as his broken bones mended. He missed much of his last term at Widecombe Primary School and had to take things easy for his first year at senior school.

But Harry’s dare-devil spirit wasn’t dampened and now, nearly 25 years on, he still has a passion for adventure. Coincidentally, whilst out climbing in March last year, his friend suffered a fall which also necessitated the Air Ambulance. This time, it was Harry who made the call and watched in awe as the aircrew saved his friend.

Harry’s story was featured in the Western Morning News, promoting the need for Devon’s Air Ambulance and encouraging readers to support the vital service.

The bravery of our many patients is to be commended and we're always pleased to hear their stories no matter how many years after the original event. Do you have a story to share? If so we'd love to hear from you.