News Hub

Flying to hospital in the air ambulance saved my eyesight says Chipping Norton man

Twelve years ago on 19 August, Kevin Soles from Chipping Norton was flown to hospital by the local air ambulance after a gas cylinder exploded in his face.

“I still can’t believe how lucky I was that day to be on the receiving end of the excellent service of the crew of Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance,” he says.

Kevin (62) credits the speed with which he got to hospital with saving his eyesight.

He was working as a rally motorsport mechanic when the regulator on a gas cylinder exploded in his face and the force of the pressure split his eye open and detached the retina.

His eye was full of blood and he couldn’t see and there were concerns that splinters could have entered his brain, which luckily scans revealed later had not happened.

“The helicopter got me to hospital quickly and saved my sight. It was the smoothest way to travel. If I had gone in a land ambulance and there had been splinters in my brain they could have been dislodged by the vibrations of the vehicle – and that would’ve been very dangerous,” he says.

The accident happened in 2008 at Turweston Aerodrome near Brackley and Kevin was flown to hospital in Coventry in just 16 minutes.

He had an operation to reattach the retina and stitch his eye and after two days was discharged from hospital. After two months he was well enough to return to work.

“When the accident happened I was very concerned that I might lose my eyesight. My eyes were strapped so I couldn’t see anything when I was in the helicopter but I knew I was in good hands and I was being taken to the right place,” he says.

Forever grateful to Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance for being there in his hour of need, Kevin regularly donates items to the Shipston shop and he grew a beard in November 2019 which raised £140 for the charity.

He is usually clean-shaven and thought it would be a novelty way to give something back.

“When I left hospital I could just see faint images but my sight gradually came back and I have 20/20 vision now. I am very lucky to have such good eyesight after such a serious accident,” he says.

To help the lifesaving service continue to provide leading pre-hospital critical care, please click here to see how you can support.