It was Father’s Day, 2016. I was due to hop on a train up to London with my wife and two kids, to see the premier of ‘The Secret Life of Pets’. We were invited as I work in the TV and film business and this was going to be a special treat for the kids.
Our train wasn’t due for another hour, so thought I’d go out for a quick ride on my bike, whilst the family finished getting ready. But, I ended up not returning home for another nine weeks – not quite the Father’s Day I’d planned.
I was riding my Vespa down a single-track country lane in Marden, when I collided head-on with a car on a blind bend with high hedgerows. I went one way and my bike went the other.
Lying on my back on the tarmac, I could see my Vespa on its side on a patch of grass. I couldn’t feel pain, it was more like the wind had been taken out of me; if anything, I felt quite comfortable and like I just needed to rest in the position for a while.
I do remember though that it was very hot with the midday sun shining down on me. A group of cyclists had gathered round me, and I was holding onto one of the cyclist’s ankles, for human contact. I asked them to remove my helmet, loosen my clothing and pour water, from their drinking bottles onto my face to cool me down.
I remember two people in red beginning to speak to me, who I later learnt were Paramedic Craig Prentice and Doctor Leonieke Vlaanderen from Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS).
They’d arrived in their rapid response vehicle and had radioed through to Captain Blaine Ashurst to ready the helicopter. They’d performed a thoracostomy on the roadside, to reinflate my lungs and had given me anaesthetic too. Once I arrived at the base, I was worked on further by the team in the hanger as an attempt to get me stabilised.
I was then air lifted to King’s College Hospital where the hospital team spent three hours resuscitating me and gave me a total of nine pints of blood.
Amanda, my wife, was told not to get her hopes up after it was established that I’d sustained nine broken ribs, a double hemothorax/pneumothorax (which means I had a collection of blood in the space between my chest wall and collapsed lungs), and a lacerated spleen, kidney and liver. My ribs were rebuilt using titanium plates and I had a further seven operations. I spent nine weeks in hospital in total.
When I left hospital I was invited to meet most of the crew from Team KSS, with my wife and two boys. I then signed up to become a Team KSS volunteer because I really wanted to say thank you. I thought, “KSS are in my bones now, from the way they saved my life, how can I say thank you, what can I do?”