Cyclists raise over £100,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Riders whose friend's life was saved by helicopter medics close in on target they set to keep service airborne...

Friends of a Yorkshire cyclist whose life was saved by medical personnel from the region’s air ambulance have raised more than £100,000 for the charity that operates its two helicopters.

The riders were out on a training ride in the countryside near Harrogate when one crashed into a wall, sustaining serious head injuries.

A helicopter from Yorkshire Air Ambulance, featured in the BBC One TV series Helicopter Heroes, took the injured cyclist to hospital in Leeds, with the trip taking a matter of minutes rather than more than an hour that it would have taken by road.

One of the victim’s friends, Mike Rimmer said: “To this day it’s a mystery how the accident happened but what we do know is that the Air Ambulance saved our friend’s life and we wanted to do something to say ‘thank you’”.

The group resolved to raise £108,000 for the charity, enough at the time to keep its helicopters airborne for a month, and they are now just £3,000 short of that total.

The major fundraising effort was a five-day ride 700km across the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean coast in September 2012, which raised £80,000, the most ever achieved in a single event on behalf of the charity.

For his efforts in organising the ride, Mr Rimmer received a special supporter’s award at Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s 2013 Recognition Awards.

Regional fundraiser Kerry Garner said: “He and his team are a true inspiration – doing all this for a friend we know is still recovering from what was an horrific accident. We cannot thank them enough.”

Last September, accompanied by Rick Bourne, Matt Eaglan, Drew Kirk and Fraser Malcolm, he helped raise another £25,299 through a 1,000 kilometre, six-day ride around Corsica.

Mr Rimmer, who is now looking to raise the final money towards that amount pledged through Just Giving, said: “We’d obviously like to thank all our sponsors and those who donated to this great cause – in particular Kerry foods, Arla Foods and QV Foods.

“The Yorkshire Air Ambulance is a really professional, well run charity providing a vital service. We all hope never to need them but take comfort from knowing they are there.”

As England’s largest region and one that includes some of its more remote rural areas, the Yorkshire Air Ambulance performs a vital role in emergency response to incidents in which people have suffered severe trauma.

Two helicopters – based at RAF Topcliffe and The Nostell Priory Estate near Wakefield – are needed to cover the region’s 4 million acres, home to 5 million people. It costs £9,900 to keep the two helicopters operational 365 days a year, equivalent to an annual cost of £3.6 million.

Earlier this week, we reported how London’s air ambulance service had launched an appeal to raise £6 million to fund a second helicopter; so far, it has raised more than £1.6 million.

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Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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