The victim of a car crash who was picked up by Surrey Air Ambulance back in 2008 is raising funds to repay the air ambulance that he credits with saving his life.
On his way to work several years ago, Darren Cooper was in a severe car accident that caused his car to veer across the road, ultimately hitting a tree and causing him to sustain serious head injuries. Not only did he end up with a fractured skull at the base of the back of his head because of the accident, but he later underwent two separate operations to rebuild his damaged eye socket.
Fortunately for him, he was quickly airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London by the Surrey Air Ambulance, a medical rescue service that receives no support from the government and runs exclusively on charity donations.
Today, he is fully recovered from the car accident. For that, Mr. Cooper gives his heartfelt gratitude to the air ambulance crew that rescued him from the scene.
He doesn’t remember a single thing about the car accident, or even leaving for work that morning. He doesn’t remember much about his stay in the hospital, either – aside from the visits by his friends and loved ones. All he knows is that without the air ambulance and medical crew’s work, he wouldn’t be alive and in the state he is now.
By hosting a charity walk, he hopes to give something back to the service — and the people — who saved his life.
He believes that without the speed and care of the air ambulance crew – who flew him to the hospital in just 12 minutes – he wouldn’t have been cared for in the same way as quickly and seen the proper specialists who attended to him — nor, again, might he be alive today to talk about it.
It’s not the first year he’s hosted a charity walk for the air ambulance, however. This will actually be the fourth annual “North Downs Walk” he’s hosted with all proceeds going directly to the air ambulance service. So far, he’s raised over 25,000 pounds (almost $40,000) just through the walks.
But that’s not all — Mr. Cooper also volunteers for the air ambulance by supporting them at various events and helping in the collection of charity money for them, but the annual charity walk is his own invention. According to him, he didn’t volunteer at all before the car accident, but he now does it regularly for the service that saved his life. His experience truly changed the way he looks at life. Even with all the work he does, he says he now tries to “be more relaxed and enjoy life a bit more.”
He hopes that, next year, the air ambulance will take over the event themselves, adding a greater air of officiality to it and boosting the number of participants even higher. He’s already been very successful, however; on average, his walks raise over 8000 pounds (almost $13,000) each year. The event is especially popular with others who have been transported by the air ambulance.
The air ambulance walk is open to anyone. It takes place on the first Saturday in October (which happens to be October 1st this year). People who sign up for the 10-mile walk on the official website will receive a Walker Welcome Pack including the walk route and a sponsorship form. For those who love good food, or just like to eat occasionally, there will be a mid-way catered lunch for the air ambulance walkers at the Parrot Inn pub. There will also be an air ambulance fly-over if there are no emergency calls.
It costs the Surrey Air Ambulance almost 2 million pounds a year to operate – and it’s all powered by charity contributions from incredibly good-hearted people like Darren Cooper.
As you can see, the air ambulance is a big deal in Surrey, where people seem to recognize the contributions air medical crews make and the lives they save every day. For years, successful events have been held to raise money to keep the service flying. Coming from this Yank – it’s truly remarkable that the air ambulance is able to keep providing service solely on charitable contributions, and says a lot about the local residents of Surrey. We, the staff at Air Ambulance Weekly, salute them.
Recently, during “Air Ambulance Week,” (not to be confused) England’s football (that’s soccer to Americans) stars sold their personalized, autographed boots on eBay for the benefit of the Surrey Air Ambulance. Other celebrities who have donated memorabilia for the charity include UK Olympic athlete and gold medalist Kriss Akabusi and former Big Brother host Davina McCall.
The Surrey Air Ambulance has flown approximately 500 missions so far this year. If you’re one of our readers who lives near Surrey, please consider participating in the event and get the word out!