After visiting my new house in Weaverham, Cheshire yesterday, I was travelling back to the M56 motorway when the traffic suddenly slowed and I was trying to work out why. Eventually I could see a man walking along the pavement and carrying what looked like a donation bucket and people slowing down as they passed to drop some money in.
As I came up to him a slowed and asked him what he was doing, to which he replied “walking form Nantwich to Millom in Cumbria (the most northerly and southerly points covered by the NWAA) to raise funds for the North West Air Ambulance Service and the medics who saved my life after an horrific motorway smash.”
His name is Mel Brunskill and wants to repay the kindness of the North West Air Ambulance (NWAA) crew who airlifted him to hospital after they came to his aid three years ago.
The 59-year-old was on his way to Plymouth on the M6 on the morning of June 20, 2014. He was travelling behind slow moving traffic when a car ploughed into the back of his motorcycle at 70mph. After being hurled into the air, he bounced off a crash barrier and eventually came to rest in the central reservation, his head resting inches away from the fast lane of the northbound carriageway. “I could feel blood trickling down my right hand side,” said Mel. “I didn’t dare to move in case I has broken any bones. I feared I had spinal injuries.”
As the traffic had now come to a stand still in both directions, Mel had to be airlifted to South Liverpool hospital, Mel, a retired police officer, fortunately only suffered minor injuries, but experts agreed the Billinge man might not be here today without the help of the Air Ambulance service. Mel said: “According to the police, paramedics and hospital surgeons, I should have died, or been more seriously injured. “That was a sobering thought.”
And now Mel is going the extra mile to repay the debt he feels he owes the North West Air Ambulance. “I never realised that the Air Ambulance was a charity, or that they’re not funded by the government. “I was staggered, so it was on my mind to do some fund-raising for them.”
A serial volunteer, Mel devotes his spare time to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), visiting local schools and youth groups to teach them about the dangers of open waters. Having done epic charity walks in the past, including a 630 mile trek in March along the South West coast for the RNLI, Mel decided to take on the walking challenge. Mel said: “They were there for me – they will be there for you too, should you or your loved ones need to get to a hospital in a life-saving emergency and much faster than a normal ambulance could do so.”
I have a regular payment made to Yorkshire Air Ambulance to try and support their continued existence, but I do find it annoying ( to say the least) that the British Government spends £13.3* billion (yes, read that figure again!) on overseas aid (yours and my money) and yet organisations like air ambulance and RNLI have to rely on charitable gifts.
* Officials at the EDF have somehow contrived to spend thousands of pounds on trapeze lessons, a study on the development of the Pacific Coconut, flying a gamut of officials from across Oceania to a renewable energy conference in Aruba (no, really), supporting the work of the EU’s press operation in Jamaica, and a study into the “youth perceptions, attitudes and views towards EU development policy” in Zimbabwe.
And the government wonders why many of us just hake our heads in despair at the complete and utter waste of money on these (and many other useless) “projects.
To donate to Mel’s cause, visit justgiving.com/mel-brunskill.