Catherine Gardner

Airlifted Date: 
Summer 2009
Airlifted From: 
Crooklets Beach, Bude
Nature of Incident: 
Horseriding Accident

For Catherine, a family holiday could have ended very differently, had it not been for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.

Whilst riding her horse in the shallows of Crooklets Beach near Bude, Catherine came off, landing face down in the surf. She remained in the water with her face submerged for around 20 seconds until rescued by her friends.

Catherine was taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth by Cornwall Air Ambulance. A journey that would have taken around 90 minutes by road took just 8 minutes by air.

The Intensive Care team at Derriford broke new medical ground in their successful treatment of Catherine. The injuries to her lungs were so severe that she was unconscious for nearly a month and spent a total of 10 weeks in hospital.

Catherine’s brother Jonathan said: “As Catherine lay in hospital I stood outside, looking at the helicopter as it stood on the helipad waiting for its next emergency call. The phrase ‘funded by the people of Cornwall’ written on the hull really hit home, and I resolved that one day I would do what I could to repay the debt I felt I owed them for saving my sister’s life.

“Over time it became clear that the only reason my sister could receive treatment at all was because of how quickly she got to hospital. In areas like Cornwall with so many remote locations, an air ambulance is vital.”

Over time and with the support of family, colleagues and her many friends, Catherine has rebuilt her life, even getting back in the saddle.

She has taken up running and completed the Cornwall Air Ambulance 10k Runway Runaround. She also attended the Official Opening of the brand new Cornwall Air Ambulance base, where she met HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the charity’s Royal Patron.