For years Jess and Keith Wheatley have been raising funds for the air ambulance service, not knowing that one day the charity they supported would be helping to save their lives.
Last December the couple had to be airlifted to hospital in two air ambulances after their car was involved in a crash with a lorry as they returned home to Gretton after an appointment in Derbyshire.
Now the pair, who say they owe their lives to the prompt actions of the crews, are calling on people to back the Air Ambulance Service’s Christmas Wishes Appeal to raise funds for the charity.
Jess said: “I really believe that if it wasn’t for The Air Ambulance Service and the speed that their helicopters got Keith and me to hospital, we’d not be here to tell this story.”
Jess, 75 and Keith, 77 were badly injured in the crash on the A6003 near Oakham on December 6 last year.
Keith, who was driving the car, broke his arm, collarbone, several ribs and pelvis. He also punctured a lung, ruptured his spleen and developed a blood clot on the brain.
Jess broke 12 ribs and her hip.
Both were airlifted to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire. Keith was flown by Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance and Jess by Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance - the two along with the Children’s Air Ambulance make up the Air Ambulance Service.
The couple spent several months in hospital but are back home and preparing to spend Christmas with their family.
Jess said: “It was such a terrifying experience, but we were in the safest hands. We are so grateful to the air ambulance for helping to save our lives, and making it so we could spend time this Christmas together, and with all the people we love most – our family.”
The couple’s daughter Elaine said: “Last Christmas was terrible for us. Mum and Dad were in a critical condition. There were times we thought we’d lost them. But now they are back home and mums biggest wish has come true. We are all together again this Christmas.”
She said she and her brother Andy would never again take their “really close family” for granted.
The couple, who have held regular events and competitions in aid of the charity since 2007, are now urging everyone to give generously to the Air Ambulance Service’s appeal to help keep their helicopters flying.
To donate to the Air Ambulance Service Christmas Wishes Appeal go to www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk/christmasappeal or call 08454 130999.