Loddington woman says without local air ambulance she may have lost her leg
Six years ago on 03 October, Letitia Hayward from Loddington, near Kettering, was airlifted to hospital by the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.
“I owe my right leg, if not my life to the helicopter flying me to hospital so quickly,” she says.
It was a beautiful October morning in 2014 when Letitia decided to make the most of the weather by going for a bike ride. On the way back, just a few hundred yards from her home, she was involved in a side to side collision with an oncoming bus which was overtaking parked cars.
She sustained multiple injuries to her right leg including a severed artery, dislocated knee, ligament damage, and a deep wound above her ankle. She was very badly bruised and also suffered a broken finger on her right hand.
“I was thrown off my bike onto the road and landed just a few centimetres from one of the wheels of the bus. I was in and out of consciousness but luckily the accident happened outside the homes of two off duty nurses who I remember helping me,” she says.
The Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) attended and flew Letitia to University Hospital Coventry – although she has no recollection of it.
“I am eternally grateful that I was flown to the specialist treatment I needed as, I believe, the outcome of my accident could have been very different if I had not been. All the doctors I spoke to told me that my injuries were very serious and for a time they were concerned I might lose my leg,” she says.
Letitia was initially in hospital for 18 days and underwent a vein graft to repair the severed artery behind her knee, plastic surgery on her ankle, and had a metalwork frame put around her knee.
Her recovery was long and slow, including over three months wearing a leg brace and a total of seven operations including surgery on her hand twice, keyhole surgery in her knee, and ligament reconstruction.
“It was a long journey. I had a whole year when I was at a hospital or doctor’s appointment every week but I still have a leg and my life is pretty much back to normal now,” says Letitia.
Coming from a farming family and living in a rural community, Letitia says she was always aware of the local air ambulance and the lifesaving work it does every day.
“It is a charity that benefits everybody and is always there when needed. I had supported it before my accident but now I am an uber-supporter,” she says.
She is a community volunteer and helps count and bank donations from collection boxes left on local shop counters and in other locations around North Northamptonshire.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there hasn’t been as much for her to do but she is willing and ready to carry on helping the charity whenever she can.
“Thank goodness we have the local air ambulance. Whenever I see the helicopter flying over, I know that somebody in urgent need is being helped. So many charities have seen a massive drop in their income since the start of the pandemic so I hope people remember the local air ambulance and the lifesaving work it does every day of the year,” she says.
Support for missions like Letitia’s is vital to the charity as it depends on public donations to remain operational. The charity needs support now more than ever as its set to receive two brand new replacement helicopters early next year to continue providing the highest level of pre-hospital emergency care to the people of Northamptonshire and beyond.