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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Carlisle teacher back in saddle to thank rescuers after crash

Teacher Tom White sat astride his bike at the top of Honister Pass, taking a breather on a sunny day with the splendour of Cumbria spread out before him.

Tom White photo
Tom White

“The next thing I remember is waking up, thinking; ‘I don’t really know where I am’,” he said. “Something must have happened, but I had no recollection.”

What had happened was that Tom, 29, of Carlisle, had suffered serious head injuries, a collapsed lung, broken ribs and a broken arm in a crash on the descent of the Lake District pass.

“From what I’ve been told my bike helmet was in bits,” he added. “Paramedics had to cut me open at the side of the road and put in a chest drain.

“They definitely saved my life,” he said.

It’s the swift actions of the staff on board the Great North Air Ambulance helicopter that flew him to intensive care in Preston in only 17 minutes that he will pay tribute to this weekend.

Tom, who lives off Durranhill Road, is back in the saddle to raise cash for the charity in the Jennings Rivers Ride on Sunday.

He’s tackling a middle distance 55-mile route taking in Whinlatter and Newlands Passes.

Tom, a teacher at Plumpton School, near Penrith, was enjoying the first day of the summer holidays last July when disaster struck.

“I’d planned for a weekend of cycling,” said Tom, who teaches year five and six pupils. “It was beautiful weather. It was a nice bike ride with a few friends, all nicely organised.

“The weekend before I did pretty much the same route. I knew the road and knew what it was like. But I don’t know what happened. It’s like a freak accident.

“No one saw it happen.”

Passers-by helped and the alert was raised. He was in hospital for about a week.

“For me it’s not really a memory,” said Tom. “I wasn’t in any pain. It’s more my girlfriend, my parents, who were impacted.

“I think they had some sleepless nights worrying.”

Tom returned to work in October.

Now he describes the work of air ambulance crews as “amazing”.

“Almost every day you see that they’ve been called out to problems,” said Tom. “The speed they can get to people and the medical skills they’ve got is amazing.

“It can’t be an easy job to fly somewhere and deal with circumstances like mine.”

To sponsor Tom go to www.justgiving.com/Thomas-White6.

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