Jean Charlton

Airlifted Date: 
Winter 1993
Airlifted From: 
Cornwall
Nature of Incident: 
Horseriding Accident

21 years ago Jean was riding with a friend when the horse bolted.

“I was so scared,” recalls Jean. “The horse took off, galloping downhill with me clinging on for dear life. Suddenly I found myself flying through the air.

“It was January so the ground was frozen. I knew I was hurt, but I just thought I was bruised. My friend knew it was more serious and dialled 999.

Within 5 minutes I remember seeing the air ambulance coming up like a bird over the hill. The crew were so kind and professional. I can’t praise them enough.”

Jean was rushed to Treliske, where surgeons found she had broken her back. One surgeon described Jean’s vertebrae as being like a hollow Easter egg.

“They told me I was half an inch from severing my spinal cord,” says Jean. “One bump and I could have been paralysed. If it hadn’t been for the air ambulance getting me to hospital so smoothly I would have been paralysed.

“Little things make me realise how lucky I was. I love taking my grandchildren to the Gannel for a walk. I couldn’t do that if I was paralysed. Cornwall Air Ambulance allowed me to still do the things I love with the people I love.”

Jean recently attended an open day at the Air Ambulance base. Even though the helicopter has changed, the memories came flooding back.

“The smell in the helicopter brought it all back. I decided at that moment I wanted to give something back to the charity to which I owe my life.”

Jean and her friend Marilyn now volunteer for the air ambulance, collecting cheques in the local community and helping at events.