WHEN farmer’s son Robert Gibb was involved in a serious motorbike accident it was the speedy response of air ambulance rescuers who made sure that he reached hospital quickly and lived to tell the tale.
A depressed skull fracture suffered in the crash – at an isolated location in the Northumberland countryside – meant emergency help and medical treatment were essential to his long-term recovery.
Robert was picked up by a Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) helicopter and airlifted to Newcastle General Hospital for an urgent operation.
Now, more than six years on from his brush with death, he is taking on a massive physical challenge to show his thanks, and raise funds for the lifesaving charity.
This summer Robert, 28, will take part in a non-stop, 45-mile run over the 10 highest peaks in the Lake District – and is currently running, cycling and swimming around 140 miles a week in preparation for the event.
Robert, who runs his own engineering business from the family farm at Eachwick, near Ponteland, said: “There is a really good chance I wouldn’t be here today if the air ambulance hadn’t got to me so quickly.”
The accident happened in the summer of 2006 when he was involved in the sport of enduro racing, and was practising on his off-road motorbike on farmland near his home.
He hit a stone and was catapulted over the handle bars of his bike.
His friends raised the alarm and an air ambulance flew him to hospital, where he spent more than two weeks and had four titanium plates fitted in his head. He was off work for six months but eventually made a full recovery. Robert said: “Because the accident happened in the middle of the countryside, the air ambulance was sent out. If it had not been for their rapid response then who knows what would have happened.
“I feel I probably owe my life to them, because you hear about other people being left dead or brain-damaged after accidents. I want to thank the air ambulance, the surgeons at Newcastle General Hospital and everyone who has helped me on my road to recovery.
“I just thought it was about time I raised some money for the air ambulance service. I spotted this 10 peaks challenge on the internet and thought it would be a good way to do it.”
Robert will compete in the Clif Bar 10 Peak challenge on June 29. The rugged and mountainous lakeland terrain makes it one of the UK’s hardest one-day, ultra-distance events. The 45-mile course includes more than 5,600 metres of ascent. Robert is currently swimming every morning, running 40 miles a week and cycling 100 miles a week in preparation. He also uses Helvellyn in the Lake District as a training run.
He said: “I’m training for an Iron Man event as well as this challenge so I’m absolutely confident I will complete the course. I haven’t set a target but hope to raise as much as I can for the air ambulance.”
Robert has a JustGiving page for anybody who would like to sponsor him at www.justgiving.com/ robert-gibb.
Mandy Drake, deputy director of fundraising at GNAAS, said: “We’re delighted that Robert is back fit and raising money for us. It looks to be a very testing challenge so we wish him all the best.”
I feel I probably owe my life to them, because you hear about other people being left dead or brain-damaged after accidents